Published: February 24, 2023
*A previous version of this blog originally appeared on inseev.com. It has been altered and updated by 3Q/DEPT.*
This blog is part one of our two-part series, Link Juice: What It Is and How to Get More. This series aims to help you understand what link juice is, why it’s important to your SEO strategy, and how it helps increase your rank factor on the SERPs. In part one of this series, we’ll help you understand what link juice is, how it works, and how to calculate link equity.
What is Link Juice?
Link juice is a term in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) that refers to the amount of authority or value one backlink passes to the website it connects with. In the SEO industry, link juice is called “link equity.” Backlinks from websites with higher authority and relevance on a topic will generate more link juice and help a page rank better on the search engine results page (SERP).
The more link juice (link equity) your page has, the better its chance of ranking for its target keywords in Google and other search engines. Several important factors go into calculating a page’s rank. Link juice through strong backlinks is just one (very important!) piece of the puzzle.
Link juice is also commonly confused with PageRank, which is Google’s actual calculation of a page’s authority. (PageRank has officially been “sunsetted” by Google, but most SEOs are confident that Google still uses something to determine a page’s value that influences its ability to rank.) Link equity is the “value” of how a page’s PageRank is transferred via each backlink. However, not all links generate the almighty link juice. Websites with more authority are viewed as trustworthy in Google’s eyes, and their links pass more juice.
The first question people often ask is, “What is link juice?” Link juice is the value or authority that one link passes to the page that it connects with. Now, this can be done in two ways: an external site linking to you or your page, and internally from one page on your site to another.
How Does Link Juice Work?
Link juice helps your page rank better in search engines. It is not the only ranking factor but is consistently cited as one of the top-ranking signals. Link juice flowing to a page can also spread throughout your website via internal linking. There are numerous studies that correlate internal linking with better rankings. For this article, it is important to know that when link juice comes to a page, it is possible to send it to other parts of your site and help other pages rank well. If you’d like to learn more about this concept, our post on DA vs PA will be helpful for you. Here’s a simplified example of how link juice works from Woo Rank:
The more good links you have, the more link juice you get!
How Do I Get Link Juice?
Link juice comes from external links (also known as hyperlinks or backlinks) to your website. You can earn more backlinks through the following methods:
- Make authoritative content and become the number-one place for information on a topic.
- Position your site or content as a resource.
- Write blog posts for other websites in your industry.
- Join industry groups and make partnerships.
- Get quoted on other websites through PR efforts.
- Fix links with link reclamation tactics.
There are of course more ideas and tactics that work. For an in-depth overview on how to get more link juice, check out our blog series on what is link building and how it works.
How Do You Calculate Link Equity?
Link equity (a.k.a. link juice) is highly dependent on several factors:
- The HTML of the link.
- The website linking to the content.
- The anchor text used.
- The relevance to the topic.
There are also tools for calculating website authority, including Moz Domain Authority (DA), Majestic Citation Flow, Majestic Trust Flow (TF), and Semrush authority score. There are other tools, but these are the most reputable in the industry.
Let’s start by looking at the HTML of the link. In general, there are two types of links: dofollow and nofollow.
Do Nofollow Links Pass Link Juice?
After the first Penguin algorithm was released, Google announced that they were tired of people paying for links and wanted to find a way to understand if a link was legitimately a natural connection between two websites. So they introduced the nofollow tag.
A nofollow link tells the search engine bots not to go to, or follow, the link destination. This ultimately tells the search engine that they can’t confirm if the source of the link can be trusted. In 2019 Google rolled out two additional tag directives, sponsored and UGC. These tag directives were created so that webmasters could indicate if link placements were paid for (sponsored) and user-generated content (UGC).
A dofollow link is essentially the opposite, as it tells the robot to go to the end destination. This helps the link “count” and will pass the almighty link juice. There are other examples of nofollow directives, and this post from Shout Me Loud is a great resource for further reading.
Google took further steps to reduce link spam by introducing a Penguin 4.0 algorithm update that can understand if a dofollow link is spammy, essentially removing the need for nofollow tags and disavows. The algorithm has had numerous updates and has become a part of Google’s core algorithm, resulting in fewer penalties.
Wahooo, I have a link from a website. Give me that juice! Not so fast.
Stay tuned for part two of our series to learn more about link equity, how to spread link juice around your website, and how to leverage 301 redirects.