Want More Link Juice? Here’s an Easy Way to Get It


Make sure you drain link equity from link rich pagesLink Juice Guide:

One of the biggest, missed opportunities I see in SEO is wasted link juice. SEOs and link builders alike are in relentless pursuit of high value links and the equity and semantic relevance that those coveted links carry. However, the irony is they often overlook vast, untapped reservoirs of concentrated link juice on the very Web properties these SEO link builders control: their own or their client's sites. So when I visit a site and see page after page of equity-rich pages that haven't been "milked" of their juice properly, I get a little glum :(.

So if you are sitting on lagoons of link juice, how do you drain these equity reservoirs? That's pretty easy...with internal anchor links. But you shouldn't just haplessly go on a link dumping spree. You need to be more strategic about it than that. That's why I'm sharing my process for draining link equity from existing content. Juice tapping should be part of your internal link strategy (which is critical for ranking, IMO, and waaaaay under-utilized), even more so after the Mayday Update. Anyway, let's dive in.

Process for Draining Link Juice from Existing Content

Now, I'm a big proponent of grabbing the low hanging fruit in SEO, with some easy link building strategies, before you get all creative and adventurous with high octane inbound link building campaigns and content marketing programs. So when I first start working with a client who has an existing site I'm always looking for high task ROI. One of my first orders of business is to do some content analysis to uncover pools of link equity, which consists of:

  • Create a Keyword List: If you've done your keyword research, you already have your list of target keywords list handy. For this exercise, I'd recommend expanding your core list for this exercise by including variations of your seed terms, so you can vary your anchor text too (BTW, this is something you should be doing regardless, as part of your content optimization...but anyway...).
  • Find Internal Link Juice Prospects: I then run a Google site search [site:www.mysite.com intext:"my target keyword"] to uncover pages that contain the keywords I intend to build internal text links for.
  • Prioritize Internal Link Juice Prospects: Once I've gathered my list of pages, I use the fabulous and free SEO for Firefox Toolbar to collect, organize and sort page data, which includes a column for my target page, # of inbound links and even a column for Toolbar PageRank (I know...green pixel fairie dust, entertainment purposes only, etc).

Use SEO for Firefox Toolbar to find link juice

(NOTE: there are other fantastic link analysis tools that I use regularly, including Linkscape and SEO SpyGlass (read my review), but those tools cost money and this is more of a low budget SEO post for the masses who may be on a shoestring budget)

  • Add Keyword Links to Drain the Equity: After analyzing my list of pages to drain, I visit each page and hyperlink the target keywords, which accomplishes four things:
    • Siphons the link juice that's been wasting away on a page and feeds it to an internal destination page
    • Creates a relevance signal (by associating the linked text to a destination page)
    • Establishes additional pathways to deeper pages on my site
    • Tells Google that I value the page I'm linking to (even though this isn't the primary goal of this exercise, many SEOs fail to realize that how you link internally (ie: internal link structure, IA) tells Google a lot about which pieces of content you value on your site)
  • Record Actions/Results: As with everything I do, I try to document all my "SEO actions" in an SEO Log (a journal of my optimization/tinkering efforts). That way I'm informed and I'm better able to evaluate the success/failure of a project. Point being, algos change every day. What worked today, may not work tomorrow. So if there comes a time when this technique stops working (highly unlikely since I feel internal link structure was a major ingredient in the MayDay Update...but that's me...), I want to be prepared. In any case, a simple dashboard to document all this internal linking/equity draining activity would look like this:

Internal link dashboard to document instances where you drain equity from existing content pages on your website

You may also want to tally the frequency of text links for terms and note SERP activity (initial ranking and post-link rank flux, etc) and monitor changes to determine how much of an impact link frequency may or may not have in your rank flux.

Finally, it's worth mentioning that just because your target keywords aren't cited on a particular "link rich" page doesn't mean you can't tactfully "insert" those terms in the content. Now, I'm not advocating you crowbar keywords in like a spammy teamster. But I am saying that, more often than not, you can find homes for all your target keywords on link rich pages and still keep the content coherent and natural sounding. But keep in mind, that the more internal text links you add to a page, the more the link equity you're draining gets diluted.

Link Juice Drainage in Action

Okay, so enough blah, blah, blahing. Let's move away from the rhetoric and into concrete examples, ie equity tapping in action. Here's the site of a prospective client who called me a few months back about SEO services, but decided not to hire me. Why didn't she hire me? Well, could be my rates are too high, or it could be she's really not that interested in dominating the SERPs after all. Probably the later. Some folks just don't like the spotlight. ;-)

Anyway, the woman's site is beantownbride.com. She is a local Boston wedding planner, a wedding photographer and an active blogger, who wanted to rank on a bunch of keywords, one being "Boston wedding." Because she blogs regularly, her site attracts links and link equity (a good thing for SEO). Now, when I was drafting my proposal, I conducted a site analysis to see if opportunities existed to drain equity from existing pages. A Google site search for site:beantownbride.com intext:"boston wedding" turned up 134 results.

This particular page (beantownbride.com/2010/01/capturing-the-proposal.html), for example, was intriguing because it:

  • Had acquired 11 inbound links
  • Had achieved some TBPR (loosely indicating healthy link juice flow)
  • Contained the clients target term "Boston wedding"

Look at your exisiting content to find anchor text and link juice opportunities

So, had she hired me, one of my first orders of business would have been to establish relevance for this term with internal linking across her site and more importantly drain pools of link juice from her most linked pages.

She also has an "About Us" page (an often underused link juice resource...more on that in the next section) which has 12 inbound links and a TBPR 2. Trouble is, it's littered with a list of contributing writers, their bios and more than 50 outbound links, all stealing valuable equity that she could be pushing to internal pages on her website. If hired, I probably would've created a sub page for all the writers, moved off all their bios and links and then dropped in internal links to pages I want to rank to harness the existing equity.

Anyway, these are just a few examples on one small site, but hopefully you get the picture.

"Not so Obvious" Pages that May Contain Fountains of Link Juice

Blog posts, informational articles, promotional Web copy, etc are the most obvious places to hunt for pools of untapped link equity, but there are some fantastic opportunities on almost every website that go completely unnoticed and untapped. What kind of pages am I talking about?

Administrative pages are typically a gold mine of link equity because they:

  • Live only one or two clicks away from the home page (which, given the natural linking order of the Web, is generally the page that attracts the most links and collects the most equity)
  • Are virtually untapped and brimming with link juice

Those administrative pages can consist of:

  • Contact Us: May seem like an odd place to add links, but you can add a list of bulleted links "below the fold" (think site map formatting here) so it doesn't interfer with users filling out forms, for example.
  • Terms of Service/Privacy Policies: Sure, these pages may contain sensitive material, but they shouldn't be "off limits." Again, steer clear of the body copy here and move down below the fold and add a list of bulleted links
  • About the Company: Easy pickens' here. This page should contain your target keywords or/if not, you should be able to insert them editorially.
  • News/Press: These pages often contain company press releases that you can "link up" like nobody's biz, for example. I wouldn't worry about hampering the "readability" of past press releases because nobody actually reads them, but, hey, that's your call...
  • Meet the Team/Team Bios: Most sites have a splash page like this that acquires equity from the home page, which you can tap. In addition, the page likely links out to individually team member bios, and you can add trailing "About the Company" boilerplates with links, like so.

Even more examples of places to tap for link juice:

  • Footer Links: Despite popular beliefs, footer links still work to pass value and relevance internally. How much is debatable and difficult to test, but I’m sure not as much value is passed here as with body copy/editorial links (see: page segmentation and reasonable surfer). Also, site trust could be a factor in how effective these links are. Finally, note that I’m arguing here for value being passed “internally,” not “externally,” which may or may not work.
  • Sitemap: Sitemaps are always underused for some reason, which is odd because they're virtual link dumping grounds where anything goes and you can be as spammy as you like. For sites with lots of content, I'd advocate implementing multiple sites maps, not only for better crawling/indexing, but also to better organize, segment and "juice up" your internal linking strategy.

And now for the most obvious, plain as day, right under your nose, no-duh, highest ROI page on your website to find (and drain) link juice from:

  • Home Page: Seriously, this is likely THE page that has THE most links on a site, which stands to reason it's the page with the most juice. Yet many SEOs totally overlook or ignore it. When I take on a new client, I immediately add links to the home page for some of the most competitive terms my client is trying to rank for. If you're not exposing deep links on your home page, do so NOW. I can pretty much guarantee that any deep pages you expose on your home page will automatically rise in the SERPs.

Okay, so there you have it. Heed my advice and don't let your hard won link equity waste away. Seriously, by not draining pages that are brimming with link juice on your site and leaking it to pages you want to rank, you're just making your job as an SEO harder. To me, this is a no brainer and something every SEO should make a priority.

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Jul 15, 2010

Outstanding tips for improving a site's internal link structure. As you said, this is an often overlooked and under-utilized tactic that can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of an overall SEO strategy.

For any sites built on the WordPress platform, there's a plugin that can help you more easily carry out such an internal linking strategy - "Internal Link Building" from SEO ROI: http://seoroi.com/specialty-services/new-seo-plugin-for-wordpress-internal-link-building/

Ken Lyons
Jul 15, 2010

Hey, Alysson.
Thanks for the kudos.
Yeah, Gab's internal linking plugin for Wordpress is a total beast and highly recommended.

Jul 16, 2010

Fantastic article! These are some extremely useful tips that I will definitely use for some of my sites. Thanks for sharing!

Jul 16, 2010

hey your blog is a great help for SEO newbies, what you told about footer links and site maps is impressive.

Jul 17, 2010

One of the most unique articles on link building I have ever read. Impressive.

Jul 18, 2010

Completely agree, most people miss theses opportunities when they have them right under there nose!

Michel Leconte
Jul 18, 2010

That's a lot of work to identify all of these opportunities indeed, and the problem is only compounded by web pages count and web site portfolio size.

An alternative to a manual approach is to use a free and open source CMS such as http://www.seotoaster.com that automates the deep-linking process, but also allow for link sculpting via JavaScript with a simple point and click interface. Check out the how-to videos for these sections.

Sase Antic
Jul 19, 2010

Valuable tips to me.
Need to work harder at my websites. ;)

Darryl Taylor
Jul 20, 2010

Great post, using untapped resources internally is definitely something that many sites could improve upon. It sounds like it could provide some valuable link juice too, going to take a look for some of these opportunities myself!

Ken Lyons
Jul 20, 2010

Hey, Darryl.
Glad you liked the post. Good luck with finding link equity opportunities on your own site.

Josh Garner
Jul 20, 2010

Nice read indeed. In an industry to which we cater a lot, we don't have to worry about inbound links (relatively to other verticals I should say). Instead, our primary "link-building campaign" is that of internal links. And this is absolutely perfect.

I always like reading little tips other SEOs use to find nuggets of info. They always make me think "Duh! Of course, its so simple. Why didn't I think of that?"

Personally, I like doing a lot of that stuff manually. I appreciate tools and such, but there's just something about getting in there and really grasping each individual aspect of a site and its current situation.

Ken Lyons
Jul 20, 2010

Hey, Josh.
Thanks for the kudos. Yeah, I like doing things manually too, for some reason...despite how inefficient it can be.

18 Simple SEO Items Commonly Missed in Web Development
Jul 21, 2010

[...] I think that internal linking is one of the most commonly overlooked things for most sites. In fact, Ken Lyons wrote a great post about it that goes into more detail than I can in this post: Want More Link Juice? Here’s an Easy Way to Get It [...]

Jul 22, 2010

Interesting stuff here... In the part about the "About Us" page, where you suggest moving all those bios to deeper pages with 1 outlink each: This suggests you believe that the overall number of outlinks from a site matters.. I think most people agree that too many outlinks from a single page is bad for that page, but are you suggesting some type of site-wide outlink count is an SEO factor? Subtle point I know, but with all debates around link juice bleeding, I was wondering what your position was?

Ken Lyons
Jul 22, 2010

Hey, Adam.
Thanks for dropping in. Yeah, as for the number of links outgoing, I'm saying that the more outgoing links I have on a page I'm targeting to drain equity from, the more links that are hogging link equity away from pages I could be funneling that equity to internally. That's all. I'm in no way saying that having too many outgoing links on your site is a bad thing and will hurt your SEO efforts, per say. I'm a big proponent of linking out to trusted, relevant resources for a number of reasons. But for this exercise of finding and draining link equity, this is strictly a selfish play to retain as much of that exisiting link equity on a page (for myself) and not have to share it with anyone else (or to share as little of it as possible). Hope that's clear.

Jul 26, 2010

great article for a classic link building. internal linkage is often forgotten while every process should start with it. However the search query [site:www.mysite.com intext:"my target keyword"] is not the best.
you should use [site:www.mysite.com "my target keyword"]. with your query you are excluding pages that have the targeted in title (which title has quite a on page SEO weight).

PS: the captcha system is annoying. you should have another version or remove it.

Tom Demers
Jul 26, 2010

Hi Traian,
Thanks for the site operator tip!
Sorry for the inconvenience re: the captcha system: it's been very helpful in cutting down spam for us but we'll see if there's a more user-friendly version available.

Edward Heaney
Aug 04, 2010

I did a search for "speed"; changed it to Blogs; clicked 100; CSV; and then created the file "speed". In Excel it showed over 1000 in Y! Page Links. I went to the search results; found the URL in question; clicked on the SEO "Y! Page Links"; and then got a page saying that no results could be found. I have tried this several times; with the same result. Aggravating!!! If I am doing something wrong would you please tell me what it is.

Ken Lyons
Aug 05, 2010

Hey, Edward.
Nope. Looks like you're doing it correctly, but I would wait until the link data finishes populating in the SERPs for all 100 listings before you export into Excel.

Mens t shirts
Aug 19, 2010

Hi, you know the graphic that refers to the 'Anchor' Text links and states Studded Dog Collar, Dog Brush etc, do you use a program to obtain those stats or do you create them manually??

Please help, I've been looking for something to be able to keep track of this sort of data for ages!

Ken Lyons
Aug 24, 2010

Well, I used to be able to grab and import the data using SEO for Firefox and dump it into a spreadsheet. But since Yahoo Link Domain command died, that functionality is now dead.
However, you can get all that data using paid tools such as SEO Spyglass and Linkscape. I use both.
Good luck,

Mens t shirts
Aug 31, 2010

Ken! Thank you sooo much. That is the exact software I was looking for. An SEO company used it for me recently but I couldn't find out what it was!

Many thanks,

Ken Lyons
Aug 31, 2010

Happy to help.

Sep 20, 2010

We are overly dependent on Google's ranking. There should be some app which is able to take SERPs and then reprocess these on a per-individual basis. Also I wanted to know why do comment follows actually decrease link juice. Because that is what killed linking in general. Similarly Apple killed linking by popularizing Apps. Similarly Facebook killed linking by internalizing everything. And now Twitter is trying the same stunt with its right pane and forced t.co

All Giants are after the very linking that makes the web THE WEB.