The term ‘link juice’ is used to refer to the potential potency of a link in terms of what it can do for a website or business’ prominence in Google. This makes link juice one of the most important factors to consider when building a backlinks profile. But just what does it actually mean in practice? The context that you would once often here this term referred to in, is in relation to outward bound links. You would often hear creators advise digital marketers not to ‘give away’ link juice by linking out to other sites. However, this has changed today. There is no finite amount of ‘link juice’ and no risk of giving it away. Today, Google actively encourages site owners and content creators to link out to useful resources if they feel it will provide value for the reader. But the term still persists and can still be useful, simply in regards to trying to ascertain a good link from a ‘bad link’ in your links profile.
The Factors Involved in Passing Link Juice
There are many factors that are involved in getting link juice and passing it. You can substitute the word authority for link juice if it makes you feel more comfortable. But link juice is a more accurate term because it shows something physically being passed from one website to another. There are many factors to consider, and we will look at a few of them here.
First of all, the link that you get from another website cannot be a nofollowed link. When nofollow tags are used in the link on a website, it tells the search engines that the link doesn’t actually count. In fact, when a search engine spider encounters this type of tag, it will simply go back to perusing the original website rather than going onto the new website that the link leads to. When a regular link passes to a new website, the search engines will index that site if it is not already in the index and give that website to boost if the original website has the link juice to do so.
One of the most important factors in determining how much link juice a website has to offer other websites is the page rank of that site. The page rank is a number that Google assigns to websites to show how much authority it gives them within their particular topic area various things can affect page rank, including the number of links pointing to that site from outside sources. Many websites do pagerank sculpting by optimizing ranking factors and link building in order to get their page rank number as high as possible.
Not only do the number of links coming into the website affect the amount of link juice that it has, the amount of site links going out are also factored in. For example, a homepage that has lots of inbound links but is only linking out to one site is going to pass on a great deal more link juice to that one site then if there were a lot of links going out.
Internal site links is also a factor when it comes to optimizing a website and getting as much link juice as possible. A site with a good internal linking strategy with keywords to a linked page that is about that particular topic is going to rank higher. In addition, a certain section of the website can have more link juice than others. Page authority can be given to a single page within the site; although the entire website usually gets a boost in the search engines as well.
How to Spot ‘High Value’ Links
So how do you know if a site is high quality or not? How do you know if it will offer good link juice? Well, there are a few things to look for. However, one of the very most important factors is simply the value that the site delivers to its audience. You need to surround yourself with the very best content creators on the net and that way, Google will think you’re one of them!
Great content that delivers value will likely do so in a number of different ways. It might be funny, it might be interesting, it might be entertaining, or it might be very useful. Research has shown us that the content that performs best tends to be somewhere in the region of 1,600-1,800 words. Why? Because over that many words, the writer/blogger/webmaster is able to deliver something actually useful. This is in-depth, long-form content that contains
and it’s something that someone can actually sit down to read with a cup of tea. Google looks at bounce rates a lot these days too; that’s how long someone spends on a website. When looking at someone you’re trying to get a link from, ask yourself how long people are likely to spend on that page before leaving. Are they engaging with the content? Are there lots of comments? Have you seen people discussing this content elsewhere?
Sites that link out to other high quality sites are also good news. Not only does this mean they’re trying to provide further reading and/or references for their audience but it also means that your link will now be alongside those other high quality links.
There’s another ‘hack’ to quickly working out whether a site is offering lots of quality and value though – and that is to ask yourself how easy it would be to get a link there. If they’re giving links out freely, then you probably don’t want one. If you question whether they’d even open your emails, then that’s probably a link worth chasing!
The Other Benefit of Working With the Best
In general, it is good practice to always seek out the best quality content you can find online and to make that your aim for linking to and getting links from. This is important not only from Google’s perspective, but also for your own reputation and for the likelihood that customers and clients will want to work with you or buy from you. Think about it, if you constantly associate yourself with the lowest common denominator, then why would a big brand want to associate itself with you? Why would someone trust what you have to say?
Likewise, linking to and from high quality sites will encourage you to ensure that your site is up to par with them. If your site is not absolutely the best quality, then they won’t want to link from you. Lift each-other up!
Trust and Authority
One of the biggest and most important factors when it comes to building high quality links is trust. Ultimately, if you can establish yourself as a trusted authority, then you’ll be practically impervious to future algorithm updates and even to negative SEO attacks.
Remember when we said that sites like the BBC have lots of low quality backlinks as well as good ones? One of the other reasons they can get away with this is simply that the organization is so established and so trusted. They’re bullet proof!
The way you get this point is simply by getting links from sites that are already at that point. So how do you know if a site is trusted or not?
Some key indicators are:
- The site is a well-known brand
- The site uses a .gov or .edu domain
- The site is featured in Google’s ‘In The News’ feature
If you can get a link from sites that meet any of these criteria, then it’s almost guaranteed to be a high quality link and to help you build your own authority and trust. The only problem? It’s incredibly hard to get links on any of those sites.
And so this is where you can begin playing a game of ‘degrees of separation’. Here, you’ll be looking for links from sites that have links from these kinds of sites.
If the link chain goes:
Harvard > Another Site > You
Then you can expect this to be incredibly beneficial for you. Likewise, even if there are few more degrees of separation, this can still help you a great deal.
Expert Tips: How to Increase Your Site’s Link Juice
There are a number of ways that you can increase the authority of your website so you have more link juice to pass on to other sites. Let’s take a look at some of those methods.
- First, make sure that you are getting as many links from authority websites as possible. The more authority that a website has, the more link juice is going to pass on to you. For example, a website with the page rank of 8 linking to you may outrank ten thousand links from websites with the page rank of 2. Therefore, it is good practice to devote most of your time to getting links from high authority websites.
- Make sure that when you link out to someone that you are linking out to a legitimate website that Google will not penalize you for being associated with. Linking out to a poor quality or spam website will decrease your own authority. In addition, make sure that you only link out when you absolutely have to. Linking out to a higher authority sites than yourself can actually increase your own authority, although not as much as if you were to get links from that website.
- Use content marketing and keyword research to make sure that Google knows what your site is about and optimize for that particular topic. When you convince the search engines that you belong in a particular niche, links from websites and that niche or outbound links to the same will mean more.
- Finally, make sure that you are using good SEO practices including having an internal linking strategy, ensuring that your site loads fast, adding content regularly and many other factors that affect search engine optimization. The same strategies that get you ranked higher in the search engines also get you more link juice to provide to other websites.
Finally, it’s also very important to make sure that the links you collect are highly relevant to the topic of your site. In other words, even if you get a link directly from Harvard, then that isn’t going to be very valuable to you if your site has nothing to do with education or learning!
The best links profile should help to show Google what your site is about and you do this by ensuring that the topics are in-line. Keep in mind that this can include getting links from pages within the broader site that are relevant. For instance, if Harvard publishes and article about pancakes and they link to your pancake recipe site then that becomes a relevant link. And we haven’t even discussed the way you go about building the link itself yet!