We don’t want to alarm you, but there’s a better-than-average chance that your webpages are thirsty. In fact, they may be downright parched, and unfortunately, spring water and electrolytes can’t satiate this thirst. That’s because what your web pages need is a very special kind of sustenance to wet their SEO whistle…
We are, of course, talking about link juice.
What Kind of Juice?
If you’re here, it’s probably because you have a website that you’d like to get to the top of the search engine results page (SERP), and the term “link juice” is one that keeps coming up. It’s kind of a ridiculous term, and honestly, there are better ways to describe it.
But digital marketing is a relatively new industry (at least compared to things like traditional marketing), and it’s had the fortune to grow up alongside meme culture and surrealist internet humor. In other words, when we say we need “link juice,” we know we’re being silly, but that doesn’t mean we’re not being true to the spirit of SEO. Still, before we get too bogged down in beverage-themed metaphors, we’re going to be as straightforward as we can. So let’s start with something someone can actually use. How about a definition?
What Is Link Juice?
“Link juice” is SEO industry slang for link equity, which is a measure of the authority, keyword relevance, and value that one site can pass onto another through links.
It’s based on the idea that web pages are more likely to connect or link to other pages of similar quality. A high-quality page with a lot of authority is likely to be more careful about the kind of content it produces, and will generally only include links to pages that meet the same standards. In other words, a respected .edu website (think Harvard.edu) is less likely to link to someone’s homemade blog or social media page.
You can think of it as a kind of referral or recommendation. If you’re looking for a good place to eat, a suggestion from a trusted friend will undoubtedly carry more weight than some commercial paid for by the restaurant itself. With link equity (the aforementioned link juice), Google and other search engines can more easily establish which recommendations carry the most weight, and how much power gets passed from one site to another when they’re connected by links.
As we mentioned in a previous blog post, sometimes success is all about who you know. And that’s what we mean when we talk about link juice in SEO: the quality and value a page gains when it contains inbound links from other high-quality sites.
Why Does Link Juice Matter?
When a search engine crawls a page, it takes a look at all the incoming links (called backlinks) to help determine just how authoritative the page may be. Links from respected, high-authority sites share that authority with the target page, resulting in a better ranking.
Link juice shared between sites also helps Google understand how relevant a page is to the topics represented by certain keywords. If you want to rank for a specific set of keywords, then acquiring backlinks from domains and pages that are already recognized as related to that topic helps ensure that the keywords you use are seen as relevant. So, when a user searches those keywords, your site will be prioritized above those sites that may include similar keywords but fail to link to other authoritative domains appropriate to that subject.
Of course, backlinks and the authority they share are only one part of Google’s algorithm; if your goal is to get the right people to the right pages at the right time, you need to make sure you’re making full and accurate use of metadata, offering an experience that’s not bogged down by slow load speeds or device incompatibility, and creating valuable content that actually addresses user needs (among other things).
Still, backlinks are an important thread in the rich tapestry of SEO. Building links that pass meaningful authority and keyword relevance to your site is one of many ways you can strengthen your ability to get the right pages to rank for the right keyword and ultimately end up in front of the right people at the right time. Right?
That’s why when it comes to link juice, SEO strategies need to be airtight.
How Does SEO Link Juice Fit into an SEO Strategy?
There are many things that you can do to improve your site to optimize it for search engines and their users. But most of the factors that you have direct control over are what would be considered on-page SEO. These are the parts of your strategy that are directly under your control — title tags, mobile-friendliness, page experience, etc. But there’s a lot that goes into your search ranking that can’t be accounted for on-page.
Link equity earned through strong backlinks is one of the most important factors in off-page SEO. These are the aspects of your strategy that you do not have direct control over. This naturally begs the question: If you don’t have direct control, can you still consider off-page SEO a part of your strategy? Absolutely you can, because there are steps you can take to earn high-quality links and bring in powerful link juice from the kinds of sites that matter — even if you don’t have full control over the sites in question.
Managing your site’s link juice is an essential part of any comprehensive SEO strategy, and may represent the biggest impact you can make in improving your off-page SEO.
What Can You Do to Bring in Link Equity from Other Sites?
Now we get down to the heart of it. At the end of the day, you don’t have any control over what other sites will or will not do. So, if a webmaster on another site decides that they don’t want to link to your content, or if they choose to designate the links as ‘nofollow’ or simply remove them altogether after originally including them, there’s really not all that much you can do about it.
But that doesn’t mean you’re powerless. Beyond creating the best possible content and putting it out there for other sites to find (and hopefully link to), there are tactics and strategies you can use to improve your chances of securing valuable links within your space. Here, we outline steps you can follow to make it happen:
1. Decide on a Method
If you’re interested in securing backlinks yourself, you’re going to have to work with owners and operators of other sites. And while it’s possible for you to pay site owners to link to you, it’s a practice that Google frowns upon — and by that we mean it actively penalizes sites that engage in this practice.
There are other options that don’t conflict with Google guidelines. These options include:
- Broken link building: Locating no-longer-live links on pages in your niche, creating relevant content for those links, and then working with the webmaster in charge of those pages to link to your newly created resource.
- Unlinked brand mentions: Finding instances of unlinked mentions or citations of your brand, and then reaching out to the site owner to add a link to your content through that mention.
Either of these strategies can help you boost the authority of your pages.
In our experience, however, we’ve found that the most effective and lasting link building strategy is producing guest posts. Guest post backlink building involves partnering with authoritative sites to provide them with blog posts that they can feature on their domain. In exchange for providing them with free content that meets their needs and standards, you can include links within the content that direct readers (and valuable link equity) back to your site.
Done correctly, guest post link building is completely above board and benefits every party involved, which is why it’s the only method we use at BASE.
2. Be Intentional about Anchor Text
It can be easy to see a link as little more than a bridge between pages and sites, but there’s more to it than that. Included in the link is the anchor text — this is the visible text (usually highlighted, underlined, or presented in a different color from the surrounding text to help it stand out) inside the link that describes what is being linked to.
So, if you decide to link to the homepage for BASE Search Marketing, your anchor text is the portion of the link that tells readers and Google what to expect when they follow it (in this case, that they will end up at the homepage for BASE). Anchor text needs to be accurate, and provide at least a basic idea of what is waiting at the other end.
In addition to accuracy, the effectiveness of your anchor text will be determined by your ratio of exact match text (text that includes the exact keyword or phrase you are targeting) and partial match text (text that includes a variation of the keyword). While it may be tempting to focus on exact match anchor text, the truth is that too many exact matches can look suspicious to the Google algorithm. Instead, keep your exact match links down to 5% – 10% of your total links, and focus on making sure that the pages you link to are relevant.
3. Set Domain Authority Minimums
The domain authority (DA) of the sites you post on will play a direct role in determining how much link juice — and more importantly, juice quality — gets shared with your site. For your link-building strategy to be effective, you will need to acquire equity from sites that are at least as authoritative as your competitor sites in the same SERPs.
This means that rather than just trying to secure backlinks from as many sites as possible, you need to be more intentional about which sites you partner with to produce blog posts. Start by figuring out the average DA of the ten top-ranking pages for your target keyword. You can then use this as the minimum allowable DA for sites you’re willing to consider for guest posting.
4. Set Traffic Thresholds
The last thing you want to do when establishing an SEO strategy is to lose sight of the human element. And just as posting on low DA sites does little to help boost your own pages’ authority, partnering with sites that don’t bring in enough organic traffic can devalue the entire strategy.
Establish minimum traffic thresholds for your target sites. This will not only bring in more qualified traffic to your pages; it will also validate that the sites you’re guest posting with are actually getting human visits (and aren’t just trying to cater to robots and search-engine crawlers).
5. Watch out for NoFollow Links
It’s worth noting that not all links are created equal. Sometimes webmasters will choose to ‘nofollow’ the links in your article, effectively blocking them from sharing link equity with your target pages. This can be a good way for a site to take more control over whom they get classified with — nofollowing links in comment sections, for example, or nofollowing a link that mentions a site in a negative way confirms that the page isn’t sharing authority and reputation when they don’t want to be.
Naturally, if your objective in creating guest posts is to secure backlinks, then nofollow links may not be worth your time. Yes, they can still bring in organic traffic, but they won’t allow you to share link equity or improve your backlink profile. When considering possible partners for guest posting, check to make sure that they don’t include the nofollow attribute. This will help ensure that your site is getting the full weight of relevancy Google is willing to confer from that link, and that your time and effort creating guest posts is being put to optimal use.
6. Don’t Forget about Your Site’s Indexability
Lastly, you will need to double-check your own site to guarantee that it can be indexed by Google. If search engines are unable to crawl your site, then all of that link juice you’ve been working so hard to secure is just flowing straight down the drain.
Quench Your Site’s Thirst for Link Equity
“Link juice” may sound silly to say out loud, but it can be a helpful way to picture the flow of value, relevance, and authority from one site to another. And if you want to reach your target audiences then understanding these connections, how they function, and the best practices for incorporating them into your SEO strategy is essential.
BASE link-building services can help you navigate the complex virtual web of domain authority. We build and maintain high-value partnerships with authoritative sites across a range of industries, delivering top-quality guest content designed to capture user interest just as effectively as it captures valuable link equity. After all, if your website is parched for link juice, then finding the right link-building partner is the best solution to quench that thirst.
Contact BASE today, and let the link juice flow.