Yesterday I mentioned that outbound links might still be helpful in SEO, even if there was no evidence that they gave a direct benefit. Almost immediately I came across a throwaway chat comment from a Google representative which poured a bit of cold water on that.
Asked whether it helps SEO to have outbound links on a page to trusted, high-authority sites, our friend from Google said no: “just having a link to some other site doesn’t change anything”.
That goes against something which has usually been seen as good practice in SEO circles. If you’re building a page to provide an authoritative resource on a topic, surely having good references to reliable sources makes the page stand up? And if something makes a page better, wouldn’t Google like it more?
Well… perhaps not significantly – but I’m not sure anyone suggested that. However, I still think that it’s good practice for users, and there’s nothing to lose in terms of SEO.
If anyone’s ever recommended that you do this for SEO reasons, they did so with the best of intentions, and they weren’t wrong, nor would they be if they continued saying so.