2. Inbound links are more important than outbound links, Briggs says. So it's critical to determine if incoming links come from quality sites.
"Google developed the 'nofollow' attribute as a way to combat spam," Briggs says. "Adding this attribute tells Google not to follow a link. A link with the 'nofollow' attribute is meant not to pass PageRank value. Use 'nofollow' when linking to untrusted content, paid links and links added by user-generated content."
3. Relevant content. "Once you know the needs and wants of your customers, deliver it to them via rich content; whether that be information, widgets, videos, blog posts, flow charts, etc.," say Beatty and Gullaksen. Then ensure that the portable content contains optimized links back to the company site. Also, they say, syndicate the content the company creates to the "appropriate social communities, blogs, power users of social networks, customers, etc.," as well as having it on the corporate site.
4. Use outbound links to make friends, gain attention, influence trust and gain some ranking benefit, Briggs says.
This work can result in later links to the company site, he says. One caution: "Don't chase the 'celebrity' sites. Target the mid-tier and small sites, because they're more likely to notice your link and the traffic you send."
And, while the direct ranking benefit of outbound links appears negligible—one of his colleagues once measured it at 5 percent for a particular site—Briggs quotes Matt Cutts of Google's Webspam team as saying parts of Google's system encourage links to "good sites."
5. Despite what some think, outbound links to quality sites don't hurt SEO, Dover says. "All of the engineers I've talked to at the search engines say that [wanton use of outbound links leaking SEO juice is] not actually what happens; you don't lose juice, you just pass on juice. And juice isn't really a finite resource; it's something that we came up with to measure websites on the Internet."