Occasionally I have caught myself trying to minimize the number of outbound links on websites and web pages that I have worked on. It is tempting to keep the links for yourself. Many people believe that a page that ranks well should only link to a few other pages, and those pages should be other pages of importance on the same domain (aka “money pages”). For example, if your pizza restaurant has a heavily trafficked page about “the best mozzarella cheese in Cary NC”, it should link back to the “Pizza in Cary NC” page.
However… Working in SEO copywriting and content creation has sent me down a road of working with professionals in several fields such as developing content for legal and medical professionals. I find the need in much of the content that I am creating for these clients to reference other resources. This content that I produce usually ranks very well.
This is how the Internet was designed to work
In 1989, when Tim Berners-Lee invented the web with HTML as its publishing language, he knew that when one document may need to cross reference another document. This is actually how he envisioned the web, as a “web of information”. To learn more about the early days read A history of HTML. (See, I just referenced and linked to a relevant document).
Is there SEO value in linking to others?
I know, I know, you’re thinking “what’s in this for me?” I think that there is value in linking out. Search engines may rank your page better or give it some more authority if it links out to other resources that offer additional, related resources. Examples of this include referencing state laws, definitions on Wikipedia, etc. Chances are, if you are creating a trustworthy, informative, authoritative piece of content you will need to reference other web content.
Trustworthy, informative, authoritative content links to other content on the Internet, creating a “web of documents” which makes the World Wide Web.
The best advice I can give to people is to go on creating content for people as if the search engines did not exist. My thought behind this is that our job is to create content for people, and the search engines job is to connect people with content written for people.