What Determines Link Juice

Whatever determines link juice, it sure as hell ain’t PageRank.

This comes as no new news to most SEO’s, but the myth of PageRank being the dominant factor in link juice is still quite popular amongst the forum posting crowd.

We here at v7n place a lot of links. (Matt doesn’t read this, does he?) Our Contextual Links Program has paid out over $140,000 to thousands of bloggers. So, yeah, we know links.

In the link building business, no matter how indifferent one is, sooner or later you’ll take a good look at what links are passing link juice and what links aren’t. So we do tests. We place links on blogs, using keywords in the anchor texts that do not appear on the linked-to pages. We track these links, and sometimes we place them on pages blogs that we wouldn’t usually use in the program. We place them on brand spanking new PR0 websites. We place others on old crummy PR0 websites. In most cases, the links do pass link juice.

Yes, links on PR0 websites – websites that have never had PR – still pass link juice. Amazingly enough, they pass enough link juice to put the linked-to website in the top ten for search terms that do not even appear on the linked-to page.

But sometimes links do not pass ranking juice. Why is that? When we find sites that do not pass link juice – and they are not as common as you might think – the one thing they all have in common is a lot of links to not-so-nice neighborhoods. And that doesn’t mean “paid links”. Paid links, even when they are marked as such, do not automatically result in a website losing its link juice. It appears to be an issue of number, frequency and percentage. If a good portion of the outbound links are to penalized websites, you can expect to lose your link juice. If, on the other hand, you slip in an occasional link or two to a bad neighborhood, chances are that you will not suffer any link juice loss.


  1. David EavesDavid Eaves12-11-2007

    Nice to see you blogging again John, great post.

  2. Big Oak SEOBig Oak SEO12-21-2007

    An honest post about the true nature of many SEO taboos: PageRank, paid links and link juice. And I agree with every word. Thanks for the refreshing frank post about these subjects. Aaron Walls linked to the post so he has taken notice too.

  3. RichardRichard01-18-2008

    I have been using a software from James Brausch that is to increase links. It is good to see that you say all links have a value, all too many sites with a PR of 2 or better don’t want to link to someone for fear that it will bring their site PR down.

  4. seopracticesseopractices04-14-2008

    Thanks for the article. I want to mention an example I have with a Site that was PR 0. I got a few quality Sites to link to my site with PR’s 3,4 and 5. After a couple weeks that Site had a PR 4. I believe there are many factors involved: age of Site, quality of inbound links, theme of inbound links, Site structure, placement of the link on the Site linking to your Site, # of links on the page linking to your Site, etc…

  5. AcneAcne04-28-2008

    I have found that even minor things such as outbound links to authority websites from the homepage can cause loss of link juice and demotion of pagerank. Primarily when this happens I have noticed a drop in the depth of spidering as well as the number of pages in the supplemental index

  6. leeluoleeluo06-10-2008

    Thanks for the article. There is a lot more information out there on this subject now. This field is growing like a weed. I know there are several programs out there too that people use to make there articles more appealing, one I know of is Glypius. This is something that I am going to be looking into.

  7. speeding ticketspeeding ticket07-18-2008

    I agree with seopractices: I think we all have discovered the value of authority PR inbounds from relevant content. I agree that site age and number of links on the page are very important. But the interesting part of the article is that PR-0 sites can, and almost always do, provide link juice. I have been seeing this for a while now with my own sites but it’s great to know the caveats through controlled testing; ie, number, frequency and percentage of outbound links going to penalized sites. Great article – short and sweet.

  8. FTA_KeysFTA_Keys08-22-2008

    I was a firm believer in ‘all links have value’ – particularly with the balancing equation of ‘1 PR4 = lots of PR0′ which indicates that you can match 1 PR4 with a certain amount of PR0. What Im finding now is that for a site that is already ranking decent, say 5-10 on the SERP, PR0 links may actually decrease rankings, even if there are quite a bit and they arent total linkfarms….TBC

  9. King CobraKing Cobra09-01-2008

    The comment from Acne is interesting. I’ve never considered that however I have gone with all internal links on my homepage and it has seemed to improve things. The thinking of course is that you get the juice there and you pass it on to your own pages, and you let the internal pages do the dirty work. This would seem to fit in with what you’re saying here.

    As far as all links being good links I wouldn’t quite go that far but I can guarantee you that PR0 links are beneficial as almost all of mine are that variety and it’s tough in my business to get a link with PR unless you’re willing to put a competitor’s link on your home page or such which isn’t a terrific idea ;)

    Ken
    King Cobra Poker

    Ken
    King Cobra Poker

  10. SEO 24/7SEO 24/702-14-2011

    In some cases sadly it can be quantity over quality, though not always the case this in many cases poor quality 0 pagerank links are the ones that show up on a link: check.

  11. Link Juice is still a mystery for me. I’m using articles, link wheels, forum profiles, and even blog comments. I’m highly suspect of the link volume shown by the big “G” and yet, I’m hoping that searches do bring traffic.

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