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Link Juice: Is It Google SEO’s New Snake Oil?

Google Search Advocate John Mueller – in a rare case of annoyance – said that all SEO advice mentioning “link juice” cannot be trusted. Is it or not?

I wondered about the context and doubted whether it was true. There are differences of opinion.

After Barry Schwartz shared the news on LinkedIn, a lively debate ensued. Even Moz and SparkToro founder Rand Fishkin chimed in in the comments saying, “Maybe link juice is real after all. Maybe you all should write more about it!”

On link juice and bad SEO advice

When he dismissed the link juice, Mueller was answering questions about the outgoing links. He basically ignored the original question and solely responded to the unwanted “link juice” mention.

While Mueller is usually neutral in his tone this time he was close to talking on Twitter:

This is nothing new. He is just reiterating what he expressed in the past more than once.

Here’s the same quote from his Twitter account in 2020:

So link juice sounds like a catchy term? Is it akin to “snake oil” fringe SEO practitioners still offer? Let’s look at the bigger picture.

Snake oil: A popular type of panacea in SEO

There is a reason why the SEO industry has had a bad rep for years. Metaphorical snake oil has been sold in various ways and many websites have been harmed by misguided SEO advice or tactics.

The proverbial “snake oil” – a synonym for misleading promises of miraculous cures for various diseases – has often been likened to SEO.

Even in 2022, we see more #seohorrorstories being circulated on Twitter and other social media than inspiring success stories. SEO experts themselves, not just outsiders, rather focus on the negative news.

Of course, the SEO industry is not the only one guilty of selling snake oil or spreading the word about it.

I had many clients asking me for long unethical SEO over the years. To this day, you must be very firm in your ethics in order not to get caught up in the downward spiral of shady SEO techniques. I also get requests for payment links and other similar offers regularly by mail.

The history of link juice

When Google started out in the crowded and messy search engine market, it had a revolutionary ranking algorithm that was used called “PageRank” to determine website authority. It is named after Google co-founder Larry Page, not (just) actually “web page”.

SEO specialists began to use many different slang terms for PageRank – “Google juice” or “link juice” being among the most popular.

In the first year since its birth, Google did quite well with PageRank alone and continued to grow its market share.

First generation search engines like AltaVista, Yahoo and Infoseek are easy to play by simply using:

Once Google grows big enough to dominate the market, unethical SEO practitioners mainly focus on artificially inflating the number of incoming links (also called backlinks) so that Google will rank them high.

PageRank became less and less a guarantee of high quality search results leading to Google starting to add more ranking signals to the algorithm over time.

As link juice becomes more abused, Google kept on adding more ranking signals, advanced technology like AI and quality concepts like E-A-T.

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How does link juice work?

We won’t go too far into the topic of link juice, as others have done before us. The evergreen guide by WooRank is still worth reading to get a quick overview. Their visualizations are mainly self-explanatory.

In theory, the website authority of the site linking out is more or less the same as the page it links to.

But in reality, the process is more complicated and the link value depends on many other elements including:

Is content the new link?

By 2019, Google has shifted its messaging to concentrate on quality content. From the outside, the pivot seems to indicate that “content is the new link.” Eventually, one of Google’s main SEO documents that largely focused on links was updated to cover content.

For a long time, Google representatives have been wary of our industry’s emphasis on link building. Instead, they underscore the need for quality content every time a question comes up.

Now, Google tends to overemphasize content in order to make people more aware of it and underrepresent links so SEOs stop obsessing about them.

In Google Search Essentials, the “key best practices” section mentions content six times including above while Links are mentioned only three times:

In my opinion, we need to put both tendencies into perspective and make sure we find the middle way.

Links are still very important yet their impact will dwindling over time, while the content is steadily growing in importance.

So, is link juice real?

While the everyday term link juice really sounds a bit sleazy, the concept behind it (Google’s original algorithm) is still valid and used to determine website and page-level authority or value.

This is a huge oversimplification of Google’s algorithm, which is very complex and contains many checks and balances (as Kaspar Szymanski has summarized) to ensure proper ranking and less prone to manipulation.

At the end of the day, you still need to attract links to your website or else other content of similar quality will outrank you in organic search results. So, while using the term link juice may seem a bit outdated, it’s not completely snake oil.

What do the experts say? Fishkin isn’t just talking about link juice.

Brian Lonsdale, Co-founder of Smarter Digital Marketing Ltd, maintains:

While Pierre Zarokian, CEO at Send Express / Reputation Stars, added:

What terms should be used instead of link juice?

You can say a lot of things to refer to link juice without sounding like a back alley druggist.

Jessica Levenson, Global Head of Digital Strategy & SEO in NetSuite and Oracle, makes it clear:

What more can you say than then? Some more professional terms include:

Daniel Foley Carter, Director at Assertive, explains:

If that’s too boring or too technical for you, you can follow Brent Payne’s advice:

Link equity is not enough

When you use synonyms for “link juice”, remember that the concept is on its way out and doesn’t work on its own like it did in the early days.

When I started in SEO in 2004, it was still common to rank empty websites.

You can even get thin content pages to rank for competitive keywords solely by directing link juice to them. In 2022, that’s a rare exception – if that’s possible.

Focus on creating great content to attract great links

As always, the truth is found somewhere in the middle. While Google has been de-emphasizing links in their algorithm and public rhetoric, its technology still relies to some extent on links.

It is still very difficult to get organic search visibility in Google solely by means of content. But once the content is endorsed by links from authority sites, the possibility of gaining visibility in the top positions of Google increases significantly.

So how do we get there without buying paid links or other Google games? Now there is a good way. Has worked for many content SEO practitioners.

Create ‘linkable assets’

For years, website owners wanted to buy SEO services instead of creating content that could actually earn them links. I lost many potential clients when I explained that I could not artificially inflate the ranking of an empty site that only had self-promotional material as its content.

Linkable assets are all kinds of comprehensive, valuable and unique resources that other publishers will likely recommend. In-depth guides, unique survey results, and breaking news are just a few examples.

Attract links naturally

Once you have published content that is worth getting linked to, you ideally just have to sit and wait until people notice and link to you.

This is, of course, a theory. In practice, you will most likely be overlooked unless you already have an established audience.

In such instances, you should at least mention experts in your content who already have an audience. They can help you get the ball rolling.

Reach out to ‘linkaratis’

Influencers, journalists and industry experts are usually very busy and when they are established a mention of social media may not be enough to attract attention.

Good old email outreach is your tool of choice. So-called linkaratis are often open to helpful suggestions that match their interests.

When you choose the right people and focus on a few instead of sending mass letters to hundreds of strangers, you gain some initial traction until others notice you organically.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and are not necessarily those of Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

Tadeusz Szewczyk, also known as Tad Chef, is a professional blogger and SEO since 2004. Although based in Berlin, Germany he has been covering blogging, social media and searching for a global audience since 2006. In 2007 he launched his own blog – SEO 2.0 – and also published on many other marketing blogs since then. In recent years he has written for many clients’ social media accounts as well. You can connect with Tad on LinkedIn and Twitter or visit his website and read his blog about social SEO.

What is inbound links example?

Inbound links are links that come from other sites to your own website. “Inbound” is generally used by people receiving links. For example, here is the login link to our founder Dharmesh’s blog. Dharmesh can say, “I got an inbound link from HubSpot.”

Is a hyperlink an outgoing link? Outbound hyperlinks use the same anchor tag format as external hyperlinks to direct you to the site. The difference is that outbound links are those on your website.

What are outbound links?

What are the outgoing links? Outbound links are links that point from your website to another. They are often used in content to add more context and link the reader to other sources that will add additional and important information to the topic at hand.

Are outbound links good for SEO?

Outbound Links and SEO Outbound Links increase the relevance of your website, especially when it comes to search engine algorithms. Think of links as providing a trail of crumbs that allow search engine algorithms to process what you do, and what industry you’re in.

What do you mean by outbound links?

Outbound links are links that point from your website to another. They are often used in content to add more context and link the reader to other sources that will add additional and important information to the topic at hand.

How do I create an outbound link for my website?

Outbound links: Give search engines a clear idea of ​​your blog because of relevant links…. Who should you link to?

  • Links to pages that actually add value and cover the topic very well.
  • Links to articles with good page authority or domain authority.
  • Link to articles that have a high number of social media shares.

How do you create an external link in HTML?

External links in html External links can be created by using anchor tags in html web pages. Here is the Pagename. html or URL is the website name or address where the link will navigate to on click.

How do I enable external links?

Click Options > Trust Center > Trust Center Settings, then click External Content. Click the option you want in the Security settings for Linked Data Types: Enable all Linked Data Types (not recommended) Click this option if you want to create linked data types without receiving security warnings.

How many types of links in SEO?

In general, there are three types of links: Internal links – hyperlinks that lead from one page to another on your own website; External links – hyperlinks that lead from your website to other resources; Backlinks – hyperlinks that lead from other sites to you.

What is link building? What Is Link Building? One Meaning. Link building, simply put, is the process of getting other websites to link back to your website. All marketers and business owners should be interested in link building to drive referral traffic and increase their site authority.

How many types of link building are there in SEO?

Having the right type of links on your website is one of the best ways to improve your search rankings, boost traffic, establish your site’s authority, and improve your customer experience.

What is link building example?

That means when you publish a blog post, for example, other relevant sites will pick it up and post it and link back to the source. Some sites republish the full thing, while others publish an excerpt and link to the full post on your site.

Why is link building important in SEO?

Link building is an important part of SEO services because it helps search engines find new web pages, and determine which pages should rank high in SERPs.

What is link building example?

That means when you publish a blog post, for example, other relevant sites will pick it up and post it and link back to the source. Some sites republish the full thing, while others publish an excerpt and link to the full post on your site.

What is link building in simple words?

Link building refers to marketing efforts to get links from other websites to your website. It is considered as one of the most powerful tools to achieve high ranking for your site in search engines.

What are some examples of link building strategies?

7 strong SEO link building strategies

  • Copy your competitor’s SEO backlinks. Automate your marketing. …
  • Use a broken link building strategy. …
  • Try to get back lost backlinks. …
  • Build links and images. …
  • Write a guest post. …
  • Get on the “best” list. …
  • Connect with other industry experts.

Why is link building important in SEO?

Link building is an important part of SEO services because it helps search engines find new web pages, and determine which pages should rank high in SERPs.

Can a link be traced?

Almost everything can be tracked: websites, blog posts, links on social media, links in ads, emails, and phone numbers. All these things are tracked to provide data.

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How do I make an external link?

To create an external link to a URL, select the icon in the address bar of the browser and drag it to the object where you want to create a link.

What are examples of links? Links are chains that connect pages on a website to other websites. Without links, we wouldn’t have a website. For example, let’s look at this URL, https://www.freecodecamp.org/. When you type in the address bar it will take you to the official freeCodeCamp site.

How do you write an external link?

To create an external link to a URL, select the icon in the address bar of the browser and drag it to the object where you want to create a link. Click Confirm. Optional: In the Edit External Links window, edit the Name, Description, Link Path and Direction.

How do I make an HTML external link?

An external link can be created by using the anchor tag in the html web page. Here is the Pagename. html or URL is the website name or address where the link will navigate to on click.

What is an external link example?

External links are links that point to websites outside of Cascade Server. In other words, any website that does not start with “www.csueastbay.edu”. Examples of external links include: Google, East Bay Today, and Microsoft.

What is an example of an internal link?

Internal links are links from one page to another on the same domain. An example is website navigation.

What are internal links?

What are internal links? Internal links are hyperlinks that point to the same (target) domain as the domain that the link is in (source). In layman’s terms, an internal link is one that points to another page on the same website.

How do you write an internal link?

The Seven Commandments of Internal Linking for Top-Notch SEO

  • Create a lot of content. To create many internal links, you need to have many internal pages. …
  • Use anchor text. …
  • Deep link. …
  • Use links that are natural to the reader. …
  • Use relevant links. …
  • Use the follow link. …
  • Use a reasonable number of internal links.

What is a external link?

External links are hyperlinks that point to (target) any domain other than the link domain in (source). External links have a greater impact on search engine rankings than internal links because they are valued by search engines as an external vote of confidence / popularity on a web page.

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