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How Does the Outbrain Widget Impact SEO?

"Industry Expert" Opinion

How Does the Outbrain Widget Impact SEO?


As an SEO specialist,  you’ve often wondered if there’s an SEO value or benefit in using content recommendations and native advertising.

The answer is yes, a lot!  

When it comes to SEO, Outbrain offers value for both parties in the online advertising equation:

  1. Publishers: Grow your in-site organic traffic with Outbrain’s Engage solution. Engage your readers with interesting and relevant content served and published by Outbrain on your website.
  2. Advertisers: Distribute your content on premium publisher sites with Outbrain’s Amplify solution. Drive quality traffic to your online content and reach more potential customers.

The Outbrain Module & SEO Scoring (For Publishers)

Let’s start by noting that the Outbrain module does not have a direct impact on a website’s SEO efforts. Therefore, this means that it has no negative impact on your SEO.

How’s so?

  • The Outbrain module is based on JS (JavaScript). While Google can parse JavaScript, it tends not to index the results of it. Google will only penalize a site if it is being used to cloak malicious links, stuff keywords, disrupt the user experience, or otherwise violate one of Google’s search conduct codes.

In addition, Outbrain does not violate any Google webmaster guidelines about widgets or modules. (See the latest news about it here).

As Google’s John Mueller responds to the tweet below, Outbrain content recommendations are just like any element on the page:

  • Paid traffic that moves from site A to site B goes via the URL, which is not visible to Google as we use the  “noindex,nofollow” meta tag, and block it via robots.txt. Essentially, we don’t transfer any link juice from site to site; therefore our widget does not gain SEO value.
  • Organic links from Site A to Site A that go through are not pure “organic” links. These are “referral” links. You can view them in your analytics and measure them as non-organic traffic.
  • The Outbrain module loads asynchronously, which means the widget load occurs independently of the page load. They don’t wait for each other – so Outbrain won’t slow down page performance, or hurt your page load time, which is an important factor in search engine rankings and UX.
  • The Outbrain module maintains the lightest weight, and it’s constantly being optimized.
  • The module improves the readers’ UX, bringing them into discovery mode via an accurate algo that serves relevant, interesting content.
  • By exposing your content to real users, you can better understand how to strategize your next optimization actions, and how to optimize your content for future readers.
  • The Outbrain Engage team is always here to provide support and assistance with any issue or concern. Feel free to reach out to your AM or contact  [email protected].
  • Worried that your UGC (User Generated Content) will get swallowed? Our team will integrate your comments section into the widget, so your site will keep generating engagement and conversation, as always.

Outbrain smartfeed

The Outbrain Module & SEO Scoring (For Advertisers)

So you’ve created great content, put a lot of effort into testing and optimizing it – but you’re just not getting enough eyeballs. This is where Outbrain comes in.

With Outbrain, you can expose your content to a relevant audience, using precise targeting options that help create engagement and nurture traffic through to the conversion process at the end of the funnel.

For many SEO specialists, this creates an important question: “Is my content safe from SEO issues, when using Outbrain?”

The answer: Yes.

Here’s why:

  • With Outbrain, your content is exposed to a relevant audience. This generates real interest and engagement, actual shares, and the potential for natural backlinks.
  • Like publishers, the more exposure your content gets, the more information you get to help you focus your optimization efforts. For example: is the content not engaging enough? Perhaps it’s the UX that needs improving? Or maybe it’s the landing page? All these optimizations will help your SEO, but more importantly, will help engage and convert your future readers.
  • Although your content is promoted on premium publishers sites (like CNN, People, TIME, ABC News and many more), you are not getting any additional backlinks from the campaign, and therefore you don’t need to worry about losing them, once your campaign ends.

About Link Juice

As the Outbrain module appears on many pages on your website, “clean/direct” links to your content pages could be considered “sitewide links”. (Check out the video below for more on this subject.)

This is widely considered as bad practice. When your site-wide links change frequently, the situation is made even worse,  as the promoted content on the Outbrain module is dynamic.

You should aim for the optimal web structure, which is a pyramid-based structure. With pyramid-based structures, you signal to the search engine bots your most important pages. The overall web structure should remain static and stable.

Site structure


So, when redirecting occurs through Outbrain’s domain, it ensures that there is no threat to your search performance.

What’s more, content recommendation modules are great for content discovery. They help users navigate to the next article in a way that traditional navigation never could. And, the more exposure your content receives, the more shares and traffic you are going to get.

Therefore, the Outbrain module ultimately encourages engagement and improves the user experience, as well as the likelihood of gaining natural backlinks.

You’ve Got the Answer

We all know that gaining traffic through SEO takes time – and patience. Next time you are wondering how Outbrain affects your SEO, just refer to this article and remind yourself that Outbrain is engineered not to have a negative impact. And with increased engagement and traffic, it can only help your SEO.

So, keep creating high quality, valuable content for your audience. In the meantime, we’ll continue to focus on creating the best native experience, delivered to your best audience.

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