Link juice is the currency of search engines. In other words, it’s the hard part of the algorithm to crack, but is the most important. Links allow you to beat your competitors for rankings in Google and other search engines.
Of course, there are several content, and HTML factors that search engines use to rank competing sites, but link juice is by far the most important aspect of dominating search engine rankings after you have optimized your site.
In order to understand how to outrank your competition, you have to understand link juice.
Search engines look at how sites link to each other to figure out which ones are the best. To show this in a way that’s understandable, let’s start off with a simple example. Say that Site A and Site B are both trying to rank for “keyword X” and have done an equivalent job of optimizing their site to rank for ‘keyword x”.
A search engine. like Google, is going to take a look at links to determine which of these two sites should rank higher. At the most basic level, let’s say that Site A gets a link from a site that Site B doesn’t get:
Site A now looks better to Google and will outrank Site B. Let’s say that Site C decides to link to Site B, as well:
Now they both look the same to Google, who will now have to look at another ranking factor to determine which one is the best.
Let’s add two new sites into the mix to further illustrate different scenarios that can happen:
In the above example, we now have Site D linking to Site A and Site E linking to Site B. To figure out which site is better between Site A and Site B, Google will have to look at the sites that are linking to Site D and Site E:
In the above example, Site D has more link juice than Site E because it’s getting links from Site F, Site G, and Site H. That means that Site A has more link juice than Site B. Site A will therefore outrank Site B.
Google is the best search engine at doing this. They can map out link relationships on an enormous scale and that’s what makes them Google.
For competitive keywords, the ranking sites have millions of links from other sites who have hundreds of thousands of links from other sites who have links from other sites who have links from other sites. This is why you see big box stores and site like Wikipedia ranking all the time – they have tons of links!
On the flip side, non-competitive keywords would require very few links to get good rankings. Local keyword SEO is an emerging market because it takes far fewer links to compete against another local companies. If your competition has zero links from other sites, or they have links from sites with no juice, your SEO goals are achieved much faster and cheaper.
Every keyword is different and if you want to rank #1 for your keyword, your first need to understand your competitors links, and then you can more accurately estimate what the investment will be to get more link juice than them. If they already have a 5 year head start on you, you might have to work twice as hard as them to catch up.
Happy Link Building!