I’m pretty certain that it was banned in “Living Color” that sang “Everything that goes around comes around”. So if we are tiling about the circle of life in general and SEO in particular, here is a good example for you dedicated SEO professionals.
When talking about links, there are two main areas we tend to concentrate on. The vast majority of our thought and effort goes into generating offsite links with appropriate anchor text in-bound to our websites.
If we have any energy left after doing this, we might consider how important it is to interlink our own sites both with good navigation and embedded into the content itself.
Those of you who’ve been in the business for any length of time will remember a third type of link. One, which for reasons of simplicity I will call “co-citation” links.
Why Would I Want To Link To A Competitor
These are outbound back links from your sites to established authorities in whatever niche it is you’re discussing. In other words a seemingly altruistic link leading away from your site.
I have these mentioned before in the past, but I’ve recently just had a tipoff from the guys from SEO Metrics that, as well as the initial few new factors they are taking into account, co-citation has made a substantial positive move on their relative SEO effect graphs.
The idea is pretty simple. Whatever subject you are writing about there will very likely be others discussing it. Co-citation works like this. Let’s say you are writing an article about one aspect of your field and come across a term or phrase which needs further explanation. With Co-citation, rather than break the train of thought in your own article it is often easier to point to another established authority in this field so that your readers can, if they desire, read up on whatever subtopic it is and gain the required background info that your own article needs to be properly understood or put in context.
There are obvious dangers of course, which is probably why co-citation is not as popular as it should be. You may lose your visitor who leaves via this helpful link and never returns. There is also the slight risk of linking to a site which Google does not like. I’ve learnt from past experience that there are some very strange sites that Google does not like.
As a quick aside here
About a year ago I did an outbound link to a website which checked Page rank. My site plummeted from page one for all the keywords I was attempting to rank for to around page 30 overnight. A quick visit to Google Webmaster forums and, after going through their usual rigmarole to get any proper advice from them (they do not like to give webmasters specific advice on anything I’ve found) it was eventually traced to this one outbound link. I removed it and within 72 hours my site had recovered. Anyway…
That aside, we all know many authority sites that rank well and are considered authorities. There is a positive ranking and SERPs benefit in linking to these occasionally and judiciously. I can’t really say more now, the guys from SEO Metrics will be releasing their latest update in the next fortnight and this new aspect along with all the other usual factors which influence search engine ranking will be addressed more fully than.