Truth, Lies, and Search Engines

Experiment 2: Outgoing Links

Some people believe that search engines like Google use outgoing links to rank your site. For instance you may be advised to link to a high ranking site on your topic with the idea that you will get a benefit from that external link. I personally don't think that would be very intuitive on the half of the search engines, but people believe what they will.

In order to test whether or not outgoing links help I made three three-page sets. Each set of three targeted a specific key phrase and had identical keyword density. One of the set had an outgoing link to an on topic page with keyword rich anchor text, one had an outgoing link to an on topic page with generic anchor text, and a third had no outgoing link.

The results on Google for this experiment were that the page with the keyword rich anchor text in the outgoing link ranked first every time, whereas the page with the generic anchor text did not rank higher than the page with no link. We can thus conclude that anchor text functions much like header, bold, and or strong text in that search engines give it higher weight when ranking your site. However the actual page you link to is irrelevant for your ranking and so linking to a high ranking external site will give you no greater bonus than linking to a page within your site assuming the anchor text is the same.

Once again, as other search engines pick up the site it will be possible to test them as well.


Currently on the site there is one more experiment running but it hasn't provided any conclusive results yet. Additionally more experiments may be run in the future, such as a test on whether or not alt attributes really help. In the meantime rest assured that the arguments over meta tags and outgoing links should have finally been settled.