The Link Juice Low-Down

Links are still the most valuable asset you have in your quest for those top rankings in competitive searches. I talked about why in part 2 of my Internet Marketing Workflows series, but here’s the long and short of it:

The reason Google got so popular so quickly in the early days was because it’s algorithm provided searchers with better results. It did that by mimicking the way that the bibliography section of books would reference other books. Books with the most mentions in other books were deemed to be authoritative in their subject. Just like that, the early Google algorithm would know that a site with lots of incoming links could be a worthwhile resource in it’s market. If there were two very similar sites on a subject, and one had 100 links while the other had 10,000 it seems obvious to rank the latter in 1st place.

I missed out a massive part of the story there, that not all links are created equal. A link from a site with high authority, like TheGuardian.com, is going to be worth more than a link from an unknown news blog that was created yesterday. We say that a link from TheGuardian.com gives more ‘Link Juice’, than a link from the other news blog – although that will still pass some.

Link Juice 1

Your aim, all other things being equal, is to make sure that each page on your site has more link juice flowing to it that the equivalent page on your competitors’ sites. If everything else is equal, and you have more juicing links, you’ll outrank them for relevant searches.

Link Juice 2

Each page has a certain amount of juice to give, and so it follows that a page with lots of juice and only one link to another page will pass 100% of it’s juice to that page. If the page links to 10 other pages, each will only receive 10% of the juice. In the next image, a link from Page B is actually giving Page C more juice, even though Page A had more juice to give.

Link Juice 3

Having visualised that, you can now see exactly why not all links are created equal. When we’re trying to nurture links, we’re aiming to find some sort of holy grail page. One which has a high amount of link juice flowing to it, a small amount of links out of the page, and a large reason to link to your page. Those are the perfect links. Conversely, we want to avoid pages that have a small amount of link juice to give, and a huge amount of links from it spreading that juice super thin.

Link juice isn’t just about external links either, each of your internal links from one page of your site to another also passes valuable links. This is where internal link strategies come into play as a very controllable aspect of your website success. In the majority of cases your homepage will be the page on your site with the most juice. The majority of those home pages spread their internal link juice extremely thinly by linking to too many pages.

Consider the difference in the number of links in the navigation of ReplaceBase and SnowTrax. The former has 50, the latter over 200. If they were the only links on those pages, and each had an equal amount of total link juice to give, each link on ReplaceBase would pass over four times as much juice to its category pages.

Takeaways

  • Now you understand the flow of link juice, you’ll know which links to spend most time and effort nurturing
  • You’ll also know to take care of which external links each of your pages contain as well
  • If you’re finding that your category pages aren’t ranking as well as you’d expect, it’s probably worth a look at how much you’re diluting your own valuable link juice from your home page.