Understanding Link Equity and How Link Juice Impacts Your Rankings



Every link has value and the total amount of value for each link is called link equity. It’s important to understand this because it can guide you in the right direction when designing and executing link building campaigns.

In this guide, we’re going to look at the importance of link equity and help you understand how it plays into your link building strategy. 

What is Link Equity?

We all understand the importance of effective link building and why we should be prioritizing building links from high-quality websites, right? 

But how many of us actually understand how links work? 

Many of us understand it like this. 

If we get a link from a website with high domain authority it gives our website a boost and it’s a search engine ranking factor that Google pays attention to.  

The “amount” a single link can benefit you is called “link equity.” Some of us call this, “link juice.” 

If we look at the original Google Patent on the algorithm it helps explain how link equity works. 

how link equity works according to google

While this might be an incredibly basic image, it provides context to how PageRank and link equity work. 

If page A links to page B and C and it has 0.4 link equity to give, each site gets 0.2 link equity. 

These numbers or “points” used on the pages are based on the strength of a website. If a website has 10 links from high-quality websites, that website will have more link equity than a website that has 5 links. 

The more equity a website has, the more ranking power it has which means it can pass link equity onto you. 

The more link equity you have, the more ranking power you have, the higher you’re capable of ranking as long as everything else is up to par on your website. We’ll talk about all the various factors that impact link equity in this guide. 

Factors Determining The Equity of a Link 

If you’re trying to build more links to your website to rank higher in the search engines, you likely want to know what websites will have the biggest impact. If you can determine the pages that have the most link equity, you can target those in your outreach campaigns to reduce the amount of total links you need. 

Here are some of the ways you can figure out which pages have more link equity than others. 

More Links to That Page = More Equity For Your Link

The value of a link is a direct representation of how many links that page has. 

ahrefs screenshot

For example, the website betterhelp.com has 2.5 million backlinks from 28.5 thousand domains. A link from this website would pass more link juice to your website than a link from a website that has 100k links from 50k websites. 

This is, at the core, one of the most important factors that determines search engine rankings. If you want to rank higher on search engine results pages, you need to understand how much link equity the linking page has. 

Years ago when we didn’t understand these factors, we focused on quality over quality. This led to SEOs and Digital Marketers chasing countless links without thinking about equity or link juice. If you can acquire link equity from relevant links that are linking to a specific web page on your site, you don’t need a million links to rank higher on Google. 

It’s important to also understand that a lot has changed since this algorithm was originally developed. Internal linking strategy, site quality, organic traffic, and site relevance also matter.

Even if you obtain a bunch of link equity from great websites, if you don’t create content worth linking to and the link relevance of the links you’re getting are not sensible, then Google will pick up on what you’re doing and you won’t benefit as much from the links. 

Nofollow vs. Dofollow: One Can Pass Link Equity, One Can’t

Nofollow links do not pass link equity to your web pages because they have an HTML tag that tells them not to do so. There are a number of reasons why this is but we don’t have to get into that. 

Links from many social media websites like Facebook and Twitter are nofollow links so external links from these sites do not boost your domain authority or help you rank higher in the search engines. 

This is done primarily to prevent gaming the system. If you were able to get link equity from any website, you could simply spam links on social media websites and pass link equity onto your sites without much effort. 

Link Equity is Split Equally Between All Recipient Websites 

This point is incredibly important to understand. If you refer back to that initial image I shared from the Google Patent website, you’ll see that if a site with 0.4 links to two other websites then each site gets 0.2 link equity. 

The amount of link equity you get on a linked page is also determined by how many pages that website links to. This is why I often preach the importance of not getting links from websites that simply link to everyone and anyone. 

If your linked page is one of a few web pages that gets links from a website, it increases the amount of link equity that website is passing onto you. 

So, to simplify this. Let’s assume that:

  • Site A has 10 link juice 
  • Site A provides external links to sites B and C 

This would mean that site B and C each receive 5 link juice. 

But, if site A links to sites B, C, D, E, and F

That would mean that each site only gains 2 link juice. 

This decreases the link value of site A by making the linking site less powerful. 

It’s crucial to understand this because link equity is the driving factor behind domain authority and all these other metrics we use to determine how valuable links are. 

The More Times a Site Links to You, the Less Valuable the Link Is 

Another important factor to understand is that link equity diminishes the more times you get a link from the same referring domain

While there’s no definitive metric for this, we can assume that each time you receive site links from the same page, less link juice is passed onto you. 

So, if you get 1 link, you’ll get 100% of the link equity, the next time 90% of the link equity, the next time 80% of the link equity, so on and so forth. 

Getting links from the same website over and over has a diminishing return and this is to prevent people from developing websites with the sole purpose of linking between each other otherwise known as a PBN or private blog network

How to Get More Equity 

The question is, if you’re trying to increase your search ranking and you want to develop the best link building strategy possible, how do you get more link juice? 

Simple, right? Just get more links and you’ll rank higher… if only it was that simple. We know that not all links are created equal now that we understand link equity. 

Do More Link Building

It’s important to understand that web pages that have a lot of links can pass link juice onto you more easily. 

referring domains in ahrefs

If we go back to this example, this page has 2.5 million links, a link from this page would have a lot of power so you would want to build links on a site like this. 

Improve Site Architecture and Internal Links 

If you understand the difference between internal and external links you know that they’re both important but one is slightly more important than the other. 

An external link from a linking page with a lot of link equity, can pass link juice to your website. If you have a certain page that has a lot of links, providing internal links from that page to other pages on your website can help spread the juice around to your entire website. 

For example, if you have a specific page with 10 links from other pages outside of your website, you’ll want to provide some internal links from that page to spread the juice around. 

This is why Content Clustering or “Siloing” is a smart SEO strategy. You can create a web of links on your website between topics that are similar which can spread the juice around while also showing Google that you’re an authority on that topic. 

It’s important that you don’t force this though. Make sure you use relevant anchor text and provide context in the existing article without just throwing a link in where it doesn’t belong. The anchor text needs to tell the reader a little about what they’re clicking so it doesn’t feel forced. 

Final Thoughts on Link Equity 

There are a number of benefits to link building but the ultimate goal is to rank higher on Google and drive more traffic to your page. Understanding these little details only makes it easier to take strategic action and move the needle as much as possible with each bit of effort. 

If you target the right websites, you’ll be able to pass the most link juice onto your site, resulting in the best return for your link building efforts. 

If you need some help, WeOutreach is an expert link building agency that helps site owners increase their search rankings by obtaining links from high authority websites. Click here to learn more.