What is link juice?

Link juice, also called link equity, is one of the primary factors that determine rankings within search engine results pages.

What Is Link Juice?

Link juice, also known as link equity, is one factor within search engine rankings that describes the authority passed between one website or page to another. Link juice is measured in a variety of ways including the topical relevance of the link, the page authority of domain being linked from, and a number of other ranking factors decided by search engines such as Google. Link juice can spread authority while you build links in two ways:

  • Internal Links: Hyperlinks that direct readers back to other pages on the same root domain;
  • External Links: Hyperlinks that direct readers to pages on different root domains from the one containing the link;

Link Juice vs. PageRank

Link juice and PageRank are two terms that are often lumped together. When Google first gave insight into their algorithm that calculates site rankings in its search results, PageRank was introduced. PageRank was focused on a site's backlink profile in order to determine rankings, but PageRank is merely a cog in the wheel of SEO factors that Google considers when establishing rankings.

What Determines Link Juice?

Link juice is influenced by a number of determiners since internal and external links both can pass link equity. Some important ideas to factor in are:

  • Link Relevance: Linking to an insurance landing page from a page dedicated to American history, for example, will probably not be considered valuable or relevant;
  • Link Crawlability: Website administrators can use no-follow links or their robots.txt file in order to signal to web crawlers, or bots, to avoid following or crawling a specific link inclusion. In addition, if a site has not been indexed by search engines, links on the site will not be discovered and will not pass authority;
  • Link Location: Where a link is located determines the amount of influence that the included hyperlink has. Links that are at the bottom of a page do not hold as much weight as a link that is placed within the content;
  • Number of Links: If you include four links, the equity of a page is spread equally across four links. The more links that are included, the more the link equity is stretched;
  • Site Authority: Links from more authoritative sites such as prominent news organizations or industry leaders can carry more weight than less well-known alternatives. However, search engines don't assign any absolute metric of authority to domains, and an organically placed and relevant backlink will almost always carry value;
  • HTTP Status: Even though Google reads all redirects as passing PageRank, not all search engines work in the same manner. The HTTP status — if a page resolves as 1xx informational responses, 2xx successes, 3xx redirects, 4xx client errors, 5xx server errors — is important to consider while building link juice. Additionally, HTTPS will rank higher than HTTP sites.

Can You Check Link Juice?

In order to check the quality of a link you need to be aware of resources that are readily available, and oftentimes free. Some of the most popular SEO analytic tools are:

These tools are used to determine what a link’s domain or page authority is, and how authoritative a link is. Some useful metrics that can help estimate the value of a link are:

  • Domain Authority: a proprietary metric designed by Moz that uses a 0 to 100 scale that approximates authority at the site level;
  • Referring Domains: the number of unique domains that are linking to the website and/or page the link exists on;
  • Domain Age: an objective date that reflects when a page first went live. While this metric doesn’t determine the total value of the link, it does give insight into other metrics and can influence things like domain authority or page authority.
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How to Leverage Link Juice to Improve SEO

There are specific techniques to implement in order to improve how a site passes link juice to important pages. There are three effective ways to go about doing so:

Obtain Links From External Domains

The only true way that link equity is received is through external links. In order to obtain external links, it is best to create relevant, resourceful, helpful content that you hope that other authoritative sites will find useful enough to ultimately link to. There are also other ways to garner external links such as guest posts, or custom link building services.

Employ Internal Links

Equity is passed in a variety of manners. The external links pointing back to your domain will lend their authority to the internal links on your page as well. This equity is passed from the external page to your content, then onto the pages that it links to internally. It is important to remember that if you want to increase the views of a specific high-value landing page, it is beneficial to link internally to that page.

Utilize SEO Auditing Services

There are companies that offer SEO Auditing Services in order to optimize for the factors that Google uses in its algorithm to rank. These companies take a look at your website in order to indicate where there is room for improvement and create a comprehensive plan to mitigate those issues using specific tactics such as keyword research, link building, and other SEO services. The intent behind the auditing services is to observe and help the flow of link equity across an entire site. To elaborate, although you may have all the pieces, auditing services ensure they are being assembled correctly. 

How to Maintain Link Juice

There are certain factors to keep in mind in order to maintain good link practices. Examples of factors to implement, keep track of, and maintain are:

  • Creating evergreen linkable content: When you create content, you want it to provide lasting value, create continuity, and attract natural links. Avoid topics that are not relevant to your site as well as content that is seasonal, or that is out-of-date (i.e. news updates, trends, holiday posts, etc.);
  • Designing a good internal linking structure: How and where you structure your internal linking is important to be aware of. There are things to consider in order to create a good internal linking structure: structure content around the topics, put the user first, manage internal link flow (as well as value), and utilize exclusive content;
  • Avoiding obtaining harmful backlinks: Harmful backlinks negatively impact your page’s performance. Google narrates a list of quality guidelines in order to inform users;
  • Fixing Broken Links: Broken links are hyperlinks on a page that do not work due to issues such as:
    • 404 errors;
    • Improper URL;
    • Domain no longer exists;
    • Firewall restrictions.
Broken links grant no benefits, so it is crucial to have working links for readers and especially for bots to follow.