In the Google Hangout from earlier this week, John Mueller filled us up with yes and nos to is this a ranking factor or not, hence all the stories here covering that hangout. At the 19 minute 53 second mark into the video, John said that external links, links on your web site that point to outside web sites (or outbound links) are not a ranking signal.
Just to be clear, links are a ranking factor - but you linking out to other sites doesn't help you rank better.
He said the content you use for the link anchor, is content, and content is a ranking signal. But the link itself is not a ranking factor.
External linking from your own pages to other sites seem to be one of the 200 ranking factors. Does Google consider external links even if they are nofollowed? Or does "nofollow" eliminate this small ranking factor for pages which only have no-follow links?
Our point of view, external links to other sites, so links from your site to other people’s sites isn’t specifically a ranking factor. But it can bring value to your content and that in turn can be relevant for us in search. And wether or not they are not followed, doesn’t really matter.
Here is the video embed at the start time:
We covered this exact topic several months ago over here but this time it is a bit more of a concrete answer.
Forum discussion at Google+.