First Link Priority? Do Multiple Links From 1 Page to Another Page Count?



Hi Matt. If we add more than one links from page A to page B, do we pass more PageRank juice and additional anchor text info? Also can you tell us if links from A to A count?

STOP PRESS – All-round nice guy and official representative for Google published a a video recently telling us how Google USED to work according to the original Pagerank formula! :)

I suppose there’s a good attempt at explaining Pagerank in simple terms with fingers for those new to seo. Or at least, how it used to work. :) Let’s face it – Google Pagerank works differently than it used to.

He mentioned something like he ‘wasn’t going to get into anchor text flow’ (or as some call First Link Priority) – in this scenario, which is, actually, a much more interesting discussion.

Pity.

But the silence on anchor text and priority – or what counts and what doesn’t, is, perhaps, confirmation that Google has some sort of ‘link priority’ when spidering multiple links to a page from the same page and assigning relevance or ranking scores.

For example (and I am talking internal here – if you took a page and I placed two links on it, both going to the same page? (OK – hardly scientific, but you should get the idea). Will Google only ‘count’ the first link? Or will it read the anchor txt of both links, and give my page the benefit of the text in both links especially if the anchor text is different in both links? Will Google ignore the second link? What is interesting to me is that knowing this leaves you with a question. If your navigation array has your main pages linked to in it, perhaps your links in content are being ignored, or at least, not valued.

I think links in body text are invaluable. Does that mean placing the navigation below the copy to get a wide and varied internal anchor text to a page? Perhaps.

I’m pretty sure, from plenty of observations I’ve made in the past, that this is indeed the case. I have seen a few examples where I *thought* might contradict my own findings, but on closer examination, most could not be verified. It’s a lot harder today to isolate this sort of thing – but Google is designed that way.

SEOMOZ findings

I think, as the years go by – we’re supposed to forget how Google works under the hood of all that fancy GUI, BTW.

Simple answer, for me is, expect ONE link – the first link –  out of multiple links on a single page pointing at one other page – to pass anchor text value. Follow that advice with your most important key phrases in at least the first link when creating multiple links and you don’t need to know about first link priority.

A quick seo test I did a long time ago throws up some interesting questions today – but the changes over the years at Google since I did my test will have an impact what is shown – and the fact is – the test environment was polluted long before now.

I still think about first link priority when creating links on a page.

It is possibly, a powerful good practice when inter-linking your pages.

I had hoped watching this video MC answered that point about anchor text. Maybe next time.

—————————————-

Do let me know if you have a view on ‘first link priority’ – if you consider it – or if you think differently. If you have heard of MC talking about the flow of anchor text in this fashion – let me know – as I haven’t seen it…. I might even give this a test again.

If you don’t know, there are lots more of these videos for noobs at:

http://www.youtube.com/user/GoogleWebmasterHelp

Want to know more about first link priority theories? It’s an interesting and sometimes hotly debated discussion – well, it used to be. Perhaps it is the case, the first link priority is not a short answer for MC to give, and by answering it, it opens a can of worms for him. The rule ITSELF probably has nuances, when nofollow is added to the mix, for instance, etc etc.

Internal Links – Testing If Only The First Link Counts in Google

I thought I would share the results of another simple test I did to see how Google treats internal links.

What does Google count, when it finds two links on the same page going to the same internal destination page.

I surmised:

  1. Google might count one link, the first it finds as it indexes a page
  2. Google might count them all (I think unlikely)
  3. Google might count perhaps 55 characters of ALL of the available links (could be useful)

OK - From this test, and the results on this site anyways, testing links internal to this site, it seems Google only counted the first link when it came to ranking the target page.

In much the same method as my recent seo test where I tested how many words you should put in a link, I relied on the “These terms only appear in links pointing to this page” (when you click on the cache) that Google helpfully shows when the word isn’t on the page).

Again, I pointed 2 everyday words at a page that don’t appear on the page or in links to the page, and searched for the page in Google using a term I knew it would rank high for (Shaun Anderson) and added my modifier keywords. I left it for some time, and checked every now and again the results.

Google Cache

Searching for “shaun anderson” + “Keyword 1″ returned the page (cache shown above).

Cartoonist

Searching for the term “shaun anderson” + “keyword 2″ did not return the page at all, only the page with the actual link on it, further down the SERPS.

Fireman

Not even in a site search.

Site Search

It’s not exactly Google terrorism to identify this, so here is the actual test page where you can see the simple test in action.

So today :),  on this site :) in internal links :), Google only counted the first link as far as anchor text transfer is concerned :)

How you can use to your advantage?

  1. Perhaps, you could place your navigation below your text
  2. This lets you vary the anchor text to important internal pages on your site, within the text content, instead of ramming down Google’s throat one anchor text link (usually high in the navigation)
  3. Varying anchor text naturally optimises to an extent the page for long tail ‘human’ searches you might overlook when writing the actual target page text
  4. Of course, I assume links within text surrounded by text are more important than links in navigation menus
  5. It makes use of your internal links to to rank a page for more terms, especially useful if you link to your important pages often, and don’t have a lot of incoming natural links to achieve a similar benefit

Works for me anyways, when I’m building new sites, especially useful on longtail searches, and there’s plenty of editorial content being added to the site for me to link to a few sales pages.

Note: I would think Google would analyse everything it finds, so it would find it easy to spot spammy techniques we’ve all seen on sites trying to force Google to take multiple link anchor text to one page.

Does Only The First Link Count In Google?

Does the second anchor text link on a page count?

This is one of the more interesting discussions in the seo community of late.

Here’s some more on the topic;

  1. You May Be Screwing Yourself With Hyperlinked Headers
  2. Single Source Page Link Test Using Multiple Links With Varying Anchor Text
  3. Results of Google Experimentation – Only the First Anchor Text Counts
  4. Debunked: Only The 1st Anchor Text Counts With Google
  5. Google counting only the first link to a domain – rebunked

I think quite possibly this could change day to day if Google pressed a button, but I optimise a site thinking that only the first link will count - based on what I monitor although I am testing this – and actually, I usually only link once from page to page on client sites, unless it’s useful for visitors.

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25 Responses

  1. Alan Tay says:

    Multiple links from one page to a page considered as one. What about multiple links from one page to different pages of the same domain? That should be counted as two shouldn’t it?

  2. Greg says:

    The more common example of two links to the same page: my cool title lorem ipsum my cool post read more Of course, it makes sense that google should take the first link to a page over other links, because WordPress powers a 4th of the most important websites. And most CMS work like WordPress in this aspect.

  3. Jon says:

    Just to clarify, it is the ‘webpage’ and not the ‘website’ that counts when it comes to the 1st link priority? So two links would count as long as they were directed toward two different pages on the same site?

  4. mark rushworth says:

    Yes i check first link priority (logo image replacement anyone) and it astounds me how crappy some peoples menu systems are.

    • Shaun Anderson says:

      I like it simple – but mine is a bit too simple at the moment – I broke it before a big server crash a few months back and didn’t have the heart to set up all my tests again. :(

  5. Ed says:

    Hi Shaun, Would you say it would be best when creating a site to ensure the main navigation site links, such as top header and sidebar navigation will appear in the source code after the content? Because while for a lot of sites the most important pages are linked to from these main site wide navigation elements, they do not, or can’t use optimal anchor text. Would this make a difference?

    • Shaun Anderson says:

      Would you say it would be best when creating a site to ensure the main navigation site links, such as top header and sidebar navigation will appear in the source code after the content?

      I specifically tested it on this site before I broke it. :) I never saw any benefit TBH.

  6. myshadowself says:

    I heard tell once upon a day that using inpage style links can give you as many sets of anchour text to a page as you like. eg (on 1 page): link 1: “HOBO SEO” -> hobo-web.co.uk link 2: “SEO TRAMP” -> hobo-web.co.uk Only “HOBO SEO” would pass as anchour text. however: link 1: “HOBO SEO” -> hobo-web.co.uk link 2: “SEO TRAMP” -> hobo-web.co.uk#seo link 3: “SEO STEPTOE” -> hobo-web.co.uk#searchenegines etc Would pass all of the above text regardless of the order it is in. A few tests I did back in the day confirmed this. I imagine it work(ed?) due to how G were creating those “jump to” links in results. I suppose it could be a little grey hat if you don’t have the correct anchour points on the landing page, so it’s probably worth creating them – it’d be useful for the user anyway. This was a year or 2 ago btw, I don’t know exactly how relevant my results are today

    • Shaun Anderson says:

      yes I saw something like that on SEOMOZ a few years back too though I didnt have the time to confirm it.

      • Andy Beard says:

        I have played around with that a little – will let you know how it works long term. Another interesting thing is when there is an image ten a text link. At least for a long time the text link was counting, even when the image had alt text.

      • Shaun Anderson says:

        Hey Andy :) Yes I played about with it a lot – but never saw any real benefit worth the roi of redeveloping a template to put the content above the links in the navigation. Perhaps if the site was built that in way in the first place – it might be different. As a best practice – I kind of like my nav to be minimal and links within the text to be counted – so I DO usually ask for this on new sites.

  7. John Meffen says:

    But have you or anyone else tested the strength of a second link with different anchor to the same site via a 301, and how far could that be pushed until google got a bit annoyed. John

  8. Reg Charie - NBS-SEO says:

    I have been doing SEO for well over a decade and I watch my metrics closely. When Google did the Mayday update last year, I believe they significantly altered the basic formula for PageRank. It seems that getting PR from linking pages no longer is a strict mathematical process (.85 x PR of page / # of links on page) but is now determined by the relevance between linked and linking pages. I base this on the fact that I built a new site just as Mayday came into effect and 4 months later it jumped to a PR4. When it did, I had 115 links. ONE on a PR5 page. ONE on a PR3 page. and 113 on PR0 pages All links were on pages containing relevant content. This could not be possible if relevance were not factored in the ranking process. best, Reg nbs-seo.com

  9. Dave says:

    I have read so many different topics about this and have tested various sites and am still a bit confused about it. I think us SEO people all have our own little techniques, regardless of what we are led to believe by the big G!

  10. Giuseppe Pastore says:

    I’ve run some test about this: I’ve found that only the first anchor text is passed, but you can use 3 ways to avoid this problem: http://www.seomoz.org/ugc/3-ways-to-avoid-the-first-link-counts-rule the rule doesn’t apply to ALT of images http://www.seo-doctor.co.uk/first-link-counts-rule-and-alt-text.html I’m now running a test to try understanding which of the 3 way is better… (you can follow me on twitter – @zen2seo – if you are interested in the results…)

  11. Marko S. says:

    I have a question (maybe a little offtopic) :) I can´t remember where i heard about weight of the backlinks from same IPs. How does google treat backlinks from relevant sites, but on the same hosting and IP? Is it bad, are they a lot less worth, should I only do deep links, etc…???

    • Shaun Anderson says:

      Google won’t have a problem on the same IP unless you habe hundreds or thousands of websites all linking in from similar IPs. Matt Cutts said that a long time ago. But with everything, if you overdo it, you’ll probably get a light slap.

  12. Stormy says:

    Just wanted to say thank you – these little tips are really helpful. I’m just getting started with SEO and the monster that is Google, so it’s much appreciated!



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