What Is Link Juice in SEO?
Link juice, also called link equity, is a concept that determines how much value a link has when it’s used on other pages. Multiple factors contribute to this value, from the page’s authority and relevance to HTTP status codes and more. Link juice is one of several criteria that Google uses to determine a page’s ranking in search engine result pages (SERPs).
How link juice works
When a webpage includes more authoritative links than another, it will typically have more link juice and therefore rank higher on SERPs. For example, if a page has one authoritative link and another page has none, the first page will rank higher because of the equity it receives from the external link. The more authoritative links a page has, the higher it will rank on a SERP.
In addition to using external links to build juice, you can implement internal links to accumulate equity on your website.
The difference between link juice and PageRank
PageRank is a value that helps measure a web page’s importance or popularity when determining SERP order. Years ago, Google used PageRank as one of its primary ranking methods. Today, PageRank is no longer the chief determinant for these rankings — it’s just one of many factors that Google considers, such as link juice.
How link juice builds
Link building has always been a significant SEO factor, and external links are often among a search engine’s most influential ranking factors. Each external link to a site is a statement reflecting the site’s relevance. If a highly influential site includes a link to a smaller, lesser-known site, Google may see it as a vote of confidence for the smaller page and increase its authority.
Internal links will also help Google understand a website and improve a page’s rankings. When you give Google links and descriptive anchor text to follow, the search engine will learn what a page is about and which pages are important.
When you’re incorporating internal and external linking into a site, you should consider several variables to determine how much juice a link will build:
- The link’s relevance: Google knows when links are relevant and irrelevant. For example, if a page about sports backlinks to a page about cooking, Google will recognize the discrepancy. These types of links have little value and create no significant juice.
- The link’s authority: Backlinks from established and trusted sites tend to build more link juice than links from smaller or brand new websites.
- Whether the link is followable: Follow links are backlinks or inbound links that tell search engine crawlers to follow a hyperlink. Alternatively, no-follow links are typically anti-spam tools with a specific HTML tag attribute telling crawlers not to follow the hyperlink or consider it for page rankings. Follow links help build link juice and PageRank value, while no-follow links do not.
- Whether the link is crawlable: If a page uses a no-index meta tag or an x-robots-tag to block crawlers, Google won’t see it, and the link will not build equity.
- The link’s location: Links in a page’s footer or sidebar typically aren’t given as much weight as links in the body of a page’s content. A page’s structure helps Google determine which content is most helpful to visitors, so a backlink that helps visitors achieve their intent is more likely to generate juice.
- The number of links on a page: If a backlink is lost among several other links in the same place, it will often go unnoticed. This scenario typically occurs on pages that incorporate an overwhelming number of links. While there’s no specific rule about the optimal number, backlinks that don’t stand out have minimal value.
How to get link juice
When a site owner wants to build link equity and improve page rankings on their site, the best way is to have other authoritative sites link their content. Some of the most effective strategies to achieve more backlinks include:
- Creating authoritative and original content that stands out.
- Positioning a site or page as a reliable resource for a specific topic.
- Guest writing for other websites with similar interests.
- Establishing partnerships through industry groups and associations.
How to avoid losing link juice
When a website migrates or a URL redirects, a link becomes ineffective and loses equity. That’s why it’s critical to monitor links on all of your pages, primarily those that receive the highest visitor traffic. Routine checking to see if a link works ensures that it’s still providing value for your site.
General measures that can help your website avoid losing equity include:
- Locating broken links: Broken links usually redirect to a 404 error page, a typical HTTP response indicating that the requested URL does not exist. In addition to manually checking whether each link works, you can use many other efficient options to find broken links and speed up the process.
- Repairing and redirecting old URLs: Broken links reduce the amount of juice a page once had. If there’s a broken or discontinued link on your site, one of the best ways to fix it is with a 301 redirect. Periodically checking for old URL paths and redirecting them can lead to significant gains in SEO visibility.
- Avoiding multiple versions of the same site or page: Another common mistake that can decrease link juice and minimize SEO is duplicate website pages. This situation often occurs when multiple versions of a site are live. Redirecting identical pages to one preferred location fixes this dilemma.
- Updating page content: Depending on the topic or niche, content goes out of date all the time. Refreshing an old page with new information makes it much more linkable and helpful, increasing the amount of link juice in the process.
Connect with the experts at WebFX to build link juice
If you’re considering a partnership with an agency that will help you build link equity and optimize SEO, look no further than WebFX. Our team of experts has the knowledge and skills required to drive more traffic to your site.
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