Referral traffic does not increase link fairness

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When Google evaluates the weight to be given to backlinks, it does not take into account factors such as referral traffic or whether the link is clicked.

This topic is discussed during the Google Search Central SEO Hangout recorded on September 17, 2021.

Google’s John Mueller is asked about link fairness and if it increases based on the traffic the link sends from one domain to another.

Mueller also determines whether Google places more value on a link if it is placed where users are likely to click on it.

John Mueller of Google on Link Equity

When asked if Google takes referral traffic into account when determining how much weight to assign to backlinks, Mueller replied:

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“We don’t use things like link traffic when trying to assess the value of a link. As far as I know, we don’t look at things like the likelihood of someone clicking on a link in terms of how we should rate it.

It’s pretty straightforward, but Mueller goes on to explain why referral traffic and click-through rate don’t increase link equity.

In short, a backlink is just a reference.

Google understands that backlinks are often added to content as quotes, and users aren’t expected to click on every link they come across.

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“Because sometimes the links are basically just referrals and it’s not so much that we expect people to click on every link on a page. But if someone references your site and says – I’m doing it because this expert here said do it – then people aren’t going to click on that link and still look at your site and confirm everything that is written there. .

But they will almost see it as a benchmark. It’s like they need to find more information, they could go, but they don’t need it. And from that point of view, I don’t think we would take that into consideration when it comes to assessing the value of a link.

Mueller continues the discussion by referring to PageRank as an example of how Google conveys link fairness.

Google’s algorithm has evolved since the days of PageRank, but the weight of a link is still determined by the fairness passed from one URL to another.

It is not determined by clicks, bounce rate, or any other type of user interaction metric.

“… If you look at how PageRank works, the way we deal with it is a little different these days. But basically the idea behind it is that usually with PageRank you set a value for individual pages and then pass a fraction of that value through the links.

If the page is considered to have a very high value, the links from there will be treated with a bit more weight compared to a random page on the internet.

As I know, we don’t do it exactly the same way we started out when it comes to PageRank, but it’s a good way to think about it.

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Listen to Mueller’s full response in the video below:


Featured image: screenshot from youtube.com/googlesearchcentral, September 2021.


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