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Linking out and the traffic effect

 7:41 pm on Aug 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

In the past, my understanding was that if you linked out from a page to another site, you would lose some link juice. It was better to keep links pointing to internal pages.

Consequently, I have been reluctant to allow guest posting on my sites, or linking to other resources. But that conflicts with courses I have read that suggest linking out to an authority site on the pages topic.

What is the current state of affairs? Will linking out lead to a loss of PR, affecting my rankings? Or will it help them?





 9:04 pm on Aug 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

PR doesn't necessarily affect your rankings. I have pr0 and pr1 pages that rank #1. I see PR5 and up pages that don't rank for anything.

I link out a lot, and I don't care about juice. My criteria is whether or not the link will enhance the user's experience. If it does, then I add it. If it doesn't, then I don't.


 12:36 pm on Aug 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

The "conservation of pagerank" school has been debunked at this point. Linking out to useful sites helps your site.

Googles algorithms cause you to lose pagerank for using nofollow, or using robots.txt and linking to pages that are in it. On most sites, this pagerank loss far outweighs the loss from any external links.

Google algorithms also make it such that any loss of pagerank doesn't really matter. Lost pagerank seems to re-appear and be assigned to your important pages by little Google fairies.


 3:54 pm on Aug 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

You do not lose any PR on outbound links.
OB links do not remove your page's PR.
A linked page gets it's PR from the calculation of PR factors and not by siphoning off the linking page's PR.

PR (links) no longer affect search results.


 4:06 pm on Aug 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

PR (links) no longer affect search results.

LOL. Links are still a huge factor in search results. Its just not a straightforward as it used to be.


 10:02 pm on Aug 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

You do not lose any PR on outbound links.

I don't think that's exactly true - at least from the original PageRank formula (the only one we know for sure).

In the initial computation of PR, each link on a page votes for its target URL, weighted by a fraction of the page's original PR calculation. So far, nothing lost from the page itself. However ANY link from the page, internal or external is getting slightly less PR voted to it when another link gets added to the page.

So far so good the PR of the linking page itself is not affected. However, PR has always been an iterative calculation - it gets made over-and-over again around the entire web until the calculated numbers reach a threshold and stop changing enough to make a difference. Conjecture has been that this is at least a single number with a 10 digit decimal.

So on each iteration, each loop of calculation, there IS a slightly smaller fraction of PR returning to the linking page. It's not major at all, but it does exist.

Counteracting that naive, original math, we know Google has modified PR quite a few times over the years. We also have heard that links now get weighted according to their location on the page - the "reasonable surfer" model. And further, Matt Cutts has told us that the overall algorithm contains factors that can REWARD sites for linking out.

So ultimately, we get what I think of as a "no problemo" effect for helpful external linking. However, it also takes more than the conventional PR calculation to get there.


 10:42 pm on Aug 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

All things in moderation. If you add an external link where one makes sense and don't link to that domain sitewide, and if the site is of decent quality, you have nothing to worry about. Nofollow isn't needed on those types of links.

A certain amount of linking out is expected and hording is frowned upon since it would make no sense to rank one page above another based on how much PR the site hordes. I'd be very surprised if linking out to high quality content didn't actually improve your sites rating in the eyes of Google, in moderation of course.

The number of links on the internet that use the nofollow tag is pegged at less than 10% by Matt Cutts. Many webmasters think it's closer to 90% because of what they see when they try to link build but it's not.


 11:01 pm on Aug 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

What is the point of the nofollow tag then, if not to conserve PR?


 11:44 pm on Aug 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google launched the nofollow tag to combat forum spam and comment spam. When Google announced nofollow, they tried to convince SEO savvy webmasters to use it by telling them that it would help the site conserve their pagerank while at the same time telling Google not to trust user generated links.

I think it was the law of unintended consequences. Google saw that only a small percentage of forums and blogs were using it for the intended purpose. A whole lot of webmasters started using on all their external links to conserve pagerank, or on internal links to sculpt pagerank. At that point, Google took away the carrot and made it so that nofollow doesn't conserve pagerank. Now there is little incentive to use the tag other than to make Google happy.


 11:49 pm on Aug 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Another reason is that you CAN sell links if you make them nofollow so no PR gets transferred. Normal marketing for awareness and traffic purposes.

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