Link equity, also known as “link juice,” is a search engine ranking factor that is based on the idea that certain links transfer benefits and authority from one page to another. This value is determined by a variety of factors, including the authority of the linking page, topical relevance, HTTP status, and others. Links that pass equity are one of many signals used by Google and other search engines to determine a page’s SERP ranking.
When determining how much weight to assign to backlinks, Google does not focus on aspects such as referral traffic or whether the link is clicked on.
This topic is covered in the Google Search Central SEO hangout from September 17, 2021.
Google’s John Mueller is asked if link equity increases based on how much traffic the link transmits from one domain to another.
Mueller also discusses whether Google gives a link more weight if it is placed in a location where users are more likely to click on it.
Let’s see how a link can get you more traffic and how google evaluates it.
But before that, it’s important to discuss what backlinks really are?
A backlink is a link that leads from another website to yours. A backlink is created when another website links to a page on your website.
And, as is standard practice, they are phenomenal for your SEO.
For a long time, top-ranking websites simply had to create a massive number of backlinks from other websites, despite the quality of those backlinks.
However, some businesses took advantage of it by using these links in a spammy way.
This naturally prompted Google to update its algorithm to give each backlink the attention it deserves.
Mueller responds when asked if Google considers referral traffic when determining the weight to assign to backlinks:
“We don’t use things like traffic through a link when trying to evaluate how a link should be valued. As far as I know we don’t look at things like the probability that someone will click on a link with regards to how we should value it.”
“Because sometimes links are essentially just references and it’s not so much that we expect people to click on every link on a page. But if someone is referring to your site and saying like – I’m doing this because this expert here said to do that – then people are not going to click on that link and always look at your site and confirm whatever is written there.
But they’ll see it as almost like a reference. It’s like if they needed to find out more information they could go there, but they don’t need to. And from that point of view, I don’t think we would be taking that into consideration when it comes to evaluating the value of a link.”
PageRank was Google’s first algorithmic calculation that was used to determine how a site should rank, primarily based on the site’s backlink profile. PageRank is no longer the primary determinant of a site’s ranking; it is now only one of the hundreds of ranking factors considered by Google, and its significance has been greatly diminished.
If you look into how PageRank works, it’s a bit different nowadays how we handle that. But essentially the idea behind that is that in general with PageRank you set up some value for the individual pages, and then you pass a fraction of that value on through the links there.
If the page is seen as being of very high value, then the links from there will be treated with a little bit more weight compared to some random page on the internet.
As far as I know, we don’t do it exactly the same way as things were in the beginning with regards to PageRank, but it’s a good way of thinking about that.” – John Mueller