Link juice is a term used by SEO marketers which are actually known by Google as ‘PageRank’.
Link juice is the value of a backlink passed to your URL from an external webpage in terms of ranking signal and power.
I have seen this post By Charles on Link Juice Guide and as I regularly get asked about how do search engines distribute the power of links I thought it would be good to curate his knowledge for my following and credit him here for his guide.
Google Patents on Page Rank
There are a number of Google patents with regards to Page Rank on how they distribute the power of backlinks throughout the internet.
Trying to understand the specifics of how Google passes link juice can be quite confusing for mathematicians, never mind a marketer.
This article is going to try and educate you further of how Google passes link juice, the different types of backlinks you can build and the differences between these.
Do Traffic Links Pass More Link Juice?
From being in many private testing groups this is a hot debate and it is so hard to isolate tests on this alone. From tests we 100% know that CTR Manipulation from search, click and engage works really well. But does traffic through backlinks still an ongoing debate.
But my opinion on this is that you should be actively trying to acquire links which generate you traffic through those links because the traffic it generates could turn into orders or subscribers to your brand.
There are also many debates to say the engagement this traffic generates through the links could strengthen your site because these visitors could improve time on site, bounce and share your site across their social platforms.
Do Nofollow Links Pass Link Juice?
Absolutely definitely not. Nofollow links are removed from the weblink graph.
You still want to try to utilise nofollow backlinks in my link profile strategy though. As they still can pass ranking signals that help your justification of your other links your website receives.
Receiving nofollowed backlinks in your link profile help make your website appear more natural. When you acquire NoFollow links from sites like press releases, Wikipedia, local directories, blog comments and other sources it gives a “trust” signal for your site’s authenticity.
What Is Link Dampening?
Link dampening is the real world technology that Google uses to corroborate what we in the SEO community call “OBL” or, Outbound Backlinks.
This term comes from the original PageRank algorithm in which you’d get a value of 0.85 from a page that would go down by 0.15 every time another external link was on the page. It wouldn’t go from 0.85 value to 0.7, it’d go down to something like 0.722 and the third link would drag the overall external link value down to about 0.612 and so on.
This isn’t the exact formula that Google uses to this day, and there is an abundance of other attributes that go into determining the value of the ranking signal a link can pass. However, it’s a good lamens terms way to explain why OBL is an actually important metric and link dampening should be taken seriously when it comes to optimizing the juice of your backlinks.
How Long Before Link Juice is Passed?
It may take a while to let your backlinks pass link juice but this depends on many factors.
The time it takes Google to index your backlink before they have ever even seen the link is a huge factor in this and why it can vary so much.
Then you have to look at how much Google likes to crawl and index the site your backlink comes from – If it’s a large authority site that has well-optimized pages regularly released, then the link will likely be at the top of the analyzing queue to be processed, rather than a site that routinely feeds Google thin or duplicate pages en masse.
The final stage is the effect that backlink has on your site. There is a number of factors to whether the link will boost or lower your rankings in the SERPs so it is important to understand all these factors below.
Link Juice Distribution Factors
There are now so many factors to take into account with link juice distribution and here below is a guide for you on this:
Anchor text is the term used for describing the keyword used to link between a website.
Anchor text selection is probably still the most important signal in link building.
If you get this right by working with correlation on what is ranking at present you can rank much faster with a great choice of anchors.
But if you get this wrong then the consequences can be very harmful. So we always advise to air on the side of caution with your anchor text ratios and try to mix up these with descriptive anchors to help feed rankbrain through hummingbird algorithm.
Google updated one of their backlink patents to include using the surrounding text of your link in analyzing the value and relevancy a backlink should pass.
It makes complete sense for search engines to do this because relevancy is so important nowadays with the hummingbird algorithm feeding rankbrain on topics.
The best ways to optimise the surrounding content is to try and include partial match wording within the text whilst still maintaining a natural sentence.
The Positioning of The Link
Not only does the quantity of outbound links on a page affect the link juice but also the positioning of where the backlink is placed affects PageRank value.
There is a Google patent called ‘Reasonable Surfer’ which supports this where they weight the link on the likelihood of the backlink being clicked from the positioning on the URL.
So ideally if purchasing guest post backlinks or buying niche edits then having your link as being the first backlink on the page and above the fold will give yourself more link juice value.
Link velocity is the measurement of how many links your website and page is getting & at what rate per day or per month.
Backlink velocity is generally measured page to page – so it becomes very important when link building to also link to supporting content just as much as your main money pages. Charles Floate actually says “we’re often actually building more links to supporting pages just due to the higher volume of them.”
There are certain techniques that you can use to be able to up your overall link velocity like building trust signal related links and splitting link building efforts between more pages on the site whilst optimizing internal linking.
For brand new websites, we preach less is more when it comes to link velocity. Building the trust signals is needed over time like acquiring social signals to allow higher velocities of backlinks being carried out.
In today’s digital world then I recommend link relevance to be at the top of the priority in terms of selecting where you receive backlinks from.
Topically relevant backlinks are a must have and you want to be trying to have your keywords in both the page title, page’s HTML headers, URL and mentions throughout the piece itself from where the link is coming from.
So not just the anchors and surrounding content to be relevant. But in an ideal world the whole article and better still the domain to be as relevant as possible to your niche.
Google still uses a domain’s overall age as a signal for how much authority a link can pass – It’s why brand new sub-domain Web 2.0s pass hardly any juice nowadays without being powered up and aged over the course of months.
From our testing, once your domain has surpassed Google’s overall page cache of 2 years. So being within Google’s cache for 2 years and having a domain age to match, you’ll get the most optimal links out of a website.
Page Age & Page Freshness
Whilst it’s ideal for you to have your link consistently within the Google cache, if you do trigger the freshness algo’s around page updates (By updating content, rich media, last updated meta date, links etc) then you can often miss out on the lost link value of having your link placed on an aged page that hasn’t been updated within Google’s cached version comparison besides that singular link.
Tiered Link Building
Ever since rolling penguin forced the algo to base link ranking signal value on a page-by-page basis, tiered link building has become the single most effective technique in a link builders arsenal right now.
Google analyzes your backlinks the same way it analyzes your own pages – It looks at the quality of the domain that page is on, it looks at the backlinks that page has, it looks at the content length, OBL and a bunch of other signals.
This means that if your baclinks aren’t actively gaining or have backlinks themselves, then you’re often losing a vast amount of signals because you’ll no longer be able to count on the root authority of the backlink’s domain anymore.
Passing link juice to improve your rankings is increasingly becoming harder because of all the factors above you need to try and take into account.
But this was always going to be the case and all that is happening is the search engines are improving on combating spammy techniques.
The best tip to take away from this is to reverse engineer what your best ranking competition are doing because correlation of what is ranking currently is a blueprint for you on what you know the search engines like (hence the reason they are ranking).
Gone are the days of purchasing a spammy backlink gig direct to your money pages and nowadays you really need to be looking to hire a specialist link building agency to build your backlinks unless you are an expert in this field.
If you would like a free backlink audit do not hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org and I can get one of my team to carry out a link audit for you on what you are missing in your link profile.
- 1 Google Patents on Page Rank
- 2 Do Traffic Links Pass More Link Juice?
- 3 Do Nofollow Links Pass Link Juice?
- 4 What Is Link Dampening?
- 5 How Long Before Link Juice is Passed?
- 6 Link Juice Distribution Factors
- 7 Summary