Everybody knows about orange juice, apple juice and grape juice, but have you ever heard of link juice? If you are marketing your business online you have probably heard the term, but do you know how it works and how you can capitalize on this valuable asset?
Link juice, link equity, or perhaps more appropriately called, link authority, is a term that describes the power that is passed to a site through internal or external links. This is only a part, but a very important part of search engine optimization. Every time that you are linked to from another source, you are gaining a portion of that web page’s authority, which in turn increases your website’s overall authority.
On the other hand, every time that you link out to another page from your website, you are contributing a portion of your page’s link authority to that external page unless the proper steps are taken to retain that authority. There is also authority passed within your website from one page to the other via interlinking. In this post, we will focus on the logistics of how link authority is passed from one page to another and why it is important when optimizing a website.
The Value of Link Authority
The amount of authority passed from one page to the next depends on a few important factors. First being how much authority the page linking out has, this is based on a number of factors, including how much link authority is pointing to that page, other factors are outlined below under ‘Link Authority Efficacy’. Secondly, how many links are pointing out from that particular page, link authority is a percentage game, where each link gains a percentage of the total link authority that can be passed on. Keep in mind that a link can not pass more link authority than the original page has.
Let’s simplify this with a diagram.
As you can see, when measuring how much link authority you are gaining to your webpage, each page that is linking to your page gives a percentage of it’s link authority based on how much link authority it is gaining. Keep in mind that each page that is linking to this page has a different amount of authority to give, but for the sake of simplicity, we made them all the same in our example.
Now that you know the power of link authority, you should go gain every link possible, right? Not so fast, all links are not created equal and some could even hurt your site if they are particularly spammy.
Link authority is effective when it comes from:
- Pages with quality content that is topically relevant content to what is on your site
- Pages that have a high page authority (this can be checked using Moz’s toolbar)
- Pages with few outbound links
- Pages that rank well in search engines
- Pages that gain exposure on social media
- Anchor text to your page that is relevant to what you want to rank for
- The page is indexable and indexed by search engines
- The harder a link is to obtain, the higher quality it is likely to have
Link authority is ineffective when it comes from:
- Nofollowed links
- Pages that are not topically relevant and have poor quality content
- Pages with a large number of external links
- Paid links typically are ineffective due to other issues on this list
- Links gained through a direct link exchange, where you link to someone’s site in return for a link to your site, this basically cancels out any benefit
- Links from site with a low domain and page authority (Moz toolbar)
Interlinking and Link authority
Many times, external linking strategies point most of the authority to the home page of the website, since this is typically the page that you want to rank highest best. This means that Interlinking or linking between different pages within the same site, is an extremely important part of your link building strategy. When linking from the home page it is wise to choose the pages that are most important to your business and the most competitive against similar pages since the largest amount of link authority will be passed on through these links. There are many different schools of thought on how to best link your internal pages and we will save that for another post. To get a more tangible sense of how link authority works, this tool can determine how much link authority is being passed from your internally linked pages.
There are many schools of thought on the correct way to interlink your web pages, but the most important thing to keep in mind when dealing with any type of search engine optimization is user intent. Afterall, we want our websites to be functional for visitors and not overly optimized based on the “rules.” If you keep your users intent at the forefront and best linking practices second, your actions you will create a well designed link scheme that will be effective for converting visitors into customers and help your site rank well.