What is Link Juice?

Link juice is a term in SEO used to refer to the value or ranking power passed to a page by external links. Google sees link juice acquired by a webpage as votes or recommendations toward your site and is one of the most important factors in determining your site’s search ranking.

There are many ways to earn links from the web through direct and indirect efforts. Direct effort refers to link building strategies, such as document sharing, guest posting, social media marketing, press release publishing and more. The indirect effort is gained from presenting excellent content on your site that causes readers to share it around the web, linking the pages naturally. The link equity that passes from these sites to your site is the link juice, and this link juice differs in its authority depending on the sites linking to you.

How Does Link Juice Work?

Suppose you have sites A and B. If all other ranking factors are constant and site A has one link while site B has no links, site A will rank higher in search results due to the link juice it receives from the external site linking to it. What happens if site B also gains one link? This depends on the amount of juice each link passes. Look at the diagram below. Site A receives links from four sites while B receives links from two sites. All the linking sites receive link juice from other sites too. Since A receives links from more sites, there is more link juice being transferred to A and consequently, A is likely to rank higher than B in search results. Note: These results assume the sites linking to A and B have a similar authority.

The flow of link juice

Another factor to consider is that passing link juice happens in both directions. So, now let us say that the sites linking to site A all also link to other sites too (represented by the grey arrows in the diagram below), whereas the sites linking to site B exclusively link to B. In this case, the percentage of link juice that B receives is higher than the percentage of link juice site A receives. This increases site B’s chance at ranking higher than site A.

How link juice gets diluted

Sculpting link juice

You used to be able to use nofollow links to preserve the loss of link juice through outbound links. This process was known as PageRank sculpting. This was to manipulate the way link juice moved from the page.

In the first diagram, you will see that with dofollow links (links that are not nofollowed) the transfer of link juice is equally distributed to all the outgoing links from a website.

Link Juice Transfer

PageRank sculpting was possible when a webmaster added a nofollow attribute to one of the outgoing links, which meant that the link juice would not transfer to the page that is nofollowed but would be distributed to the other links. This is demonstrated in the diagram below.

Link Juice nofollow

This is no longer possible. You can see in the next diagram that the site distributes its link juice to all three sites equally, the difference is that the nofollowed link doesn't receive it.

Link Juice nofollow Current

Since this is the case, you may be worried about the dilution or leaking of link juice from your home page to nofollow links on your footer or sidebar. A good and widely used practice is to stop the flow of link juice to spam comments and links posted on blogs with a nofollow attribute. On the contrary, when it comes to internal links on a site, it is a good practice to allow a natural flow of link juice rather than controlling it with nofollow attributes. The link juice obtained and distributed within your site keeps your inner pages popular on the web as well as your homepage. This collectively enhances the PageRank of your home page.

Link juice passing to your site is effective when it is from:

Link juice passing to your site is ineffective when it is from:

How to Maximize Your Link Juice

Since link juice is so important to a page's search ranking, optimizing your website's link juice is an integral part of SEO. This comes in two parts:

1. Internal linking

Many marketers and website owners overlook pools of link juice already acquired by pages. There's an excellent chance you've got reservoirs of link juice on your site that are just waiting to be tapped to distribute value to other pages.

To optimize your internal linking for a particular page, come up with a list of keywords and LSI keywords relevant to the page's content and other pages relevant to that content. You can use the site: and intext: search operators to find that content.

Add links to your target page in the top pages in those search results (obviously, ignore any pages that aren't actually relevant). It might be tempting, but don't use the same keyword-rich anchor text every time. This could wind up looking spammy to Google.

Consider removing less relevant links from those high-value pages to avoid diluting the link juice too much. Check My Links is a super useful plugin to find the links on a page.

2. Link reclamation

Link reclamation is the process of finding and fixing old links pointing to your pages. Use a crawler like Site Crawl or check Google Search Console's Index Coverage report to find URLs that return a 404 status.

You can use a tool like Ahrefs to find links to that page.

From there it should be as easy as providing an updated URL to the website owner (they don't want a dead link on their page either).

Check out our guide on link reclamation for more tips on recovering link juice.

Note that you can sneakily use link reclamation to claim a competitor's old link for yourself.

3. Linkbait content — the skyscraper technique

One of the most effective ways to generate more link juice for your SEO is to create content that's worth linking to.

Yes, easier said than done, but don't worry! You don't necessarily have to start from scratch.

It's called the skyscraper technique.

This tactic is simply finding content that you know people link to and making it better:

Once you've spruced up the content, share it with your audience across social media. Engaging your audience encourages sharing and links.

For a full look at the skyscraper technique, read the guide by the guy who pioneered it.

4. Outreach

There are some who think creating linkbait is enough to build link juice. However, (just to extend the metaphor) you still need to cast bait in order to hook a fish.

When the fish is link juice, that means manual outreach.

You can use a tool like BlogDash, AuthorCrawler, Pitchbox or similar PR/influencer tool to find websites relevant to your topic.

Find content on these websites that can be enriched by your sweet new content.

Carefully craft your outreach email for maximum results:

Don't get too discouraged if your outreach yields a small conversion rate. Since you're targeting authoritative websites with large audiences just one link can go a long way. This is definitely a quality over quantity exercise.

The Full Value of Link Juice

Remember that link juice is important because it's really a way to measure how people are discussing your content, website and brand. Yes, link juice is really important to your Google rankings. But it's also a great way to build brand awareness, build your reputation and establish yourself as a resource in your niche.

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