What is link juice?
Link juice (or link equity) is an old yet surprisingly not-yet-obsolete term in SEO. It means the value of a backlink. The more commonly used phrase ‘passing the link juice’ means passing the value obtained from a backlink, a group of backlinks, or a high ranking page, from one page to another through internal or external linking (mostly internal).
The idea is that if one of your pages is doing well in rankings and has a ton of backlinks, you can pass the link juice and optimize the internal links on that page in a way that those pages also start to rank higher and get some of the value from the high ranking page.
Before we proceed with more information about link juice, here’s what Google’s John Mueller has to say about it:
I’d forget everything you read about “link juice.” It’s very likely all obsolete, wrong, and/or misleading. Instead, build a website that works well for your users.
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) July 29, 2020
That being said, all the external and internal links on your high ranking pages are important and can drive user experience as well as rankings for other pages. ‘Passing the link juice’ may not entirely work in 2021 but you should use the established best practices for internal and external linking on your pages.
In this article, we will cover some basic questions about link juice because a lot of new SEOs are still searching for information, and will then discuss some best practices for internal and external linking.
How to get link juice
In theory, you can get link juice by placing internal links on one of your high ranking pages. Let’s suppose you have a real estate website that has a blog as well as a number of real estate listings. You have a blog on how to look for a good neighborhood if you have kids, that blog ranks really well for your target keywords, gets decent amount of traffic, and has earned some backlinks from high quality websites. In this scenario, that blog has link juice, and you can get some of that link juice to flow into other pages by placing relevant links, for example links to relevant listings from the neighborhoods being discussed in the blog.
When placing links, you have to make sure you do the following:
- Don’t flood the page with links, because link juice is a finite resource
- Make sure the links are relevant to the content on the page. For example, don’t link to an online casino from an article that deals with weight loss
- Make sure the anchor text is explanatory and indicative of what the users are about to click on
How to check link juice
A lot of SEOs equate link juice to link authority, i.e. the page authority of the page linking to you or the domain authority of the domain linking to you. Major SEO service provides like Moz, SEMRush and Ahrefs have their own way of calculating this authority. At Moz, they call is domain authority, at Rank Genie, we call is domain strength.
Using page authority and domain authority to measure the total link juice of a page is good and all, but what you need to be doing is checking the effectiveness of passing the link juice, i.e. after you linked to a few pages, you have to monitor the following:
- Are they getting increased traffic?
- Are people clicking on the links?
- Did those pages get crawled and indexed because of those links?
- Have you noticed any weekly improvement in their rankings?
You can take a few high ranking pages on a website, add links to them, monitor the rankings of the newly linked pages using a keyword rank tracker, and check if you were able to pass some link juice to those pages. There are a lot of variables here and it is not an easy experiment to run. However, if you can do this and monitor said pages for a few months, you will have a definite answer to whether or not this strategy works.
Link juice calculator
One of the many ways to calculate link juice is to first assign a value to each page linking to you. To simplify this, consider the example of one of your blog posts getting one backlink from a page with the page authority of 60. Since this page has only one backlink, its current link equity or page value is the same as the page linking to it, i.e. it is 60.
When you link to other pages, you are trying to pass some of that link juice to other pages. Let’s say you link to four pages. In an ideal world, you are trying to pass the value of 60 through four links, which means the link juice flowing through each link will be worth 15 units (60 divided by 4).
Since this is not an ideal world and a number of other factors effect rankings, we can add an arbitrary erosion factor of 25%, which means that 75% of the juice will be flowing through. So each of your links is now passing 11.25 (15*75/100) units of link juice.
If your page has multiple backlinks, take out the average page authority and then go through the same calculation again.
Is link juice relevant anymore?
The term ‘link juice’ and the phrase ‘passing the link juice’ should be put to rest now. That being said, getting backlinks is important, the links on higher ranking pages matter, and using best practices for linking can do wonders for your website’s rankings while improving the way users navigate your site.
Here are some common best practices for internal as well as external links:
- Use explanatory anchor text
- Use some variations when it comes to anchor text. Do not always go for exact match keywords, mix it up branded keywords, partial match keywords, and no keywords in the anchor text
- Focus on what is being said before and after the linked text. The entire sentence matters, the entire paragraph matters in some cases
- Use relevant links (to give credit and back up claims)
- Using promotional internal links is okay
- For promotional external links, make sure you declare them as nofollow, dofollow, or sponsored depending on the nature of the link and the page
I hope that this covers all questions you had about link juice. Please go ahead and let me know what you think about link juice in the comments section.