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Outgoing Links Effect for SEO: Experiment

by Alex Yumashev · Aug 26 2011
There's been a lot of debate about whether external linking helps or hurts your SEO and most of the SEO experts including the gurus at SEOmoz tend to think of external-linking as a good strategy.

I made a simple experiment about six months ago. And discovered the flip-side of the coin. Here are the exact steps I took:
  1. I have a page that ranks on top of Google's SERP. It's our Macro Recorder homepage. I've put a lot of effort to get it there and it took us five (5) years of hard "white-hat" work to rank high on "macro recorder", "mouse recorder", "macro program", "keyboard macro" and all the variations.
  2. I've put an external link on that page - linking to a Wikipedia-article on the very same topic - "macro recording". It's a highly relevant link, obviously. And what can be more trusted and authoritative than Wikipedia?.
  3. Boom. In one day the Wikipedia article has outranked my page in the SERP.
Enough said.

So be careful.

I guess in my particular case the reason was as follows: domains like Wikipedia are much, much more "trusted" and "relevant" in Google's eyes, that's why adding one tiny link to it's macro-recording article rocket-launched the article outranking my own page.

Removing the link restored rankings back to normal. But it took several days.