Merge juice: Is it the new snake oil for Google SEO?

Google’s search advocate John Mueller said – in a rare case of irritation – that SEO advice that mentions “link juice” should not be trusted. Is it or not?

I wondered about the context and doubted if it was true. There are different opinions.

After Barry Schwartz shared the news on LinkedIn, a lively debate ensued. Even Moz and SparkToro founder Rand Fishkin chimed in in the comments, saying, “Maybe Link Juice is legit after all. Maybe you should write more about it!”

On link juice and bad SEO advice

When he rejected Link Juice, Mueller answered a question about outbound links. He essentially ignored the original question, only responding to the unwelcome mention of “Link Juice”.

While Mueller is usually neutral in his tone, this time he came close to a rant on Twitter:

This is nothing new. He is only repeating what he has expressed more than once in the past.

Here’s a similar quote from his 2020 Twitter account:

So is linkjuice such a vile term? Is it comparable to the “snake oil” that SEO practitioners still offer? Let’s take a look at the big picture.

Snake oil: A popular type of panacea in SEO

There’s a reason the SEO industry has had a bad rap for many years. Metaphorical snake oil has been sold in a variety of ways and many websites have been harmed by misguided SEO advice or tactics.

The proverbial “snake oil” – a synonym for misleading promises of miracle cures for all sorts of diseases – is often compared to SEO.

Even in 2022, we’re seeing far more #seohorrorstories shared on Twitter and other social media than inspirational success stories. SEO experts themselves, not just outsiders, are more likely to focus on this negative news.

Of course, the SEO industry isn’t the only one guilty of selling or spreading snake oil.

I’ve had many clients ask me about unethical SEO practices over the years. To this day, one has to be very firm in one’s ethics to avoid falling into a downward spiral of shady SEO techniques. I also regularly get email requests for paid links and other similar offers.

The history of link juice

When Google started out in the crowded and chaotic search engine market, it had a revolutionary ranking algorithm that used something called “PageRank” to determine website authority. It was named after Google co-founder Larry Page, not (just) the actual “website”.

SEO specialists started using many different slang terms for PageRank – “Google Juice” or “Link Juice” were among the most popular.

In the early years since its inception, Google did fairly well by PageRank alone and steadily expanded its market share.

First generation search engines like AltaVista, Yahoo, and Infoseek were easy to play by simply using:

As Google grew big enough to dominate the market, unethical SEO practitioners focused primarily on artificially inflating the number of inbound links (aka backlinks) to get Google to rank them higher.

PageRank became less and less a guarantee of quality search results, leading to Google adding more ranking signals to the algorithm over time.

As Linkjuice became more and more abused, Google added more and more ranking signals, sophisticated technologies like AI, and quality concepts like E-A-T.

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How does link juice work?

We’re not going to delve too deeply into the topic of Link Juice like others have done before us. A perennial favorite from WooRank is still worth reading to get a quick overview. Your visualizations are particularly self-explanatory.

In theory, the website authority of the linked site is more or less evenly distributed among the linked sites.

But in reality the process is much more complex and the link value depends on many other elements including:

Is content the new link?

By 2019, Google shifted its messaging to focus on quality content. From the outside, the pivot seems to imply that “content is the new link”. Finally, one of Google’s key SEO documents, which focused mostly on links, has been updated to cover mostly content.

Google officials have long been suspicious of the industry’s emphasis on link building. Instead, they underscore the need for quality content every time the question arises.

Now Google tends to overemphasize content to get people’s attention and underemphasize links so SEOs stop obsessing over them.

In Google Search Essentials, content is mentioned six times in the Top Best Practices section, including above, while links are mentioned only three times:

In my opinion, we have to put both tendencies into perspective and find a middle ground.

Links are still very important, but their impact will diminish over time as the importance of content steadily increases.

So, is link juice real?

While the slang term link juice really sounds a bit shoddy, the concept behind it (Google’s original algorithm) is still valid and is used to determine authority or value at the site and page level.

It’s a huge simplification of the now very complex Google algorithm, which includes numerous checks and balances (as summarized by Kaspar Szymanski) to ensure correct ranking that is less prone to manipulation.

At the end of the day, you still need to pull links back to your site or other content of similar quality will surpass you in organic search results. While the use of the term Link Juice may sound a little dated, it’s not quite snake oil.

What do the experts say? Fishkin isn’t the only one talking about Link Juice.

Brian Lonsdale, co-founder of Smarter Digital Marketing Ltd claims:

Pierre Zarokian, CEO of Submit Express / Reputation Stars added:

What terms should be used instead of link juice?

You can say a lot of things related to Link Juice without sounding like a back alley drug dealer.

Jessica Levenson, Global Head of Digital Strategy & SEO at NetSuite and Oracle makes it pretty clear:

What else can you say instead? Professional-sounding terms include:

Daniel Foley Carter, Director at Assertive explains:

If that’s too boring or technocratic for you, you can take Brent Payne’s advice:

Link equity is not enough

However, if you use a synonym for “linkjuice”, remember that the concept is on its way out and won’t work on its own like it did in the early days.

When I started SEO in 2004, it was still common to rank empty websites.

You could even get pages with thin content to rank for competitive keywords by directing Link Juice at them. In 2022 this is a rare exception – if at all.

Focus on creating great content to attract great links

As always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. While Google places less emphasis on links in its algorithm and public rhetoric, its technology still relies on links to some degree.

It is still very difficult to achieve organic search visibility on Google through content alone. However, once this content is verified by links from authority sites, the likelihood of it showing up in Google’s top positions increases significantly.

So how do we get there without buying paid links or otherwise playing Google? There is now a busy road. It has worked for many content SEO practitioners.

Create ‘linkable assets’

For many years, website owners wanted to buy SEO services instead of creating content that could actually earn links. I lost a lot of potential customers when I explained that I can’t artificially inflate the ranking of an empty website that only contains self-promotional content.

Linkable assets are any type of rich, valuable, and unique resource that are likely to be recommended by other publishers. In-depth guides, unique poll results, and breaking news are a few examples.

Attract links naturally

Ideally, once you’ve published content worth linking to, all you have to do is sit and wait for people to notice and link to you.

That’s the theory, of course. In practice, unless you already have an established audience, you will most likely be overlooked.

In such cases, you must at least mention experts in your content who already have an audience. They can help you get the ball rolling.

Reach out to ‘linkaratis’

Influencers, journalists and industry experts are usually very busy and once established, a mention on social media may not be enough to get their attention.

Then good old e-mail communication is your preferred tool. So-called Linkaratis are often open to helpful suggestions that match their interests.

Choosing the right people and focusing on a few instead of mass-mailing hundreds of strangers will give you some initial traction until others notice you organically.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily those of Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

Tadeusz Szewczyk, also known as Tad Chef, has been a professional blogger and SEO since 2004. Although based in Berlin, Germany, he has been engaged in blogging, social media and search for a global audience since 2006. In 2007 he started his own blog – SEO 2.0 – and since then has also been published on numerous other marketing blogs. In recent years he has also written for many clients’ social media accounts. You can connect with Tad on LinkedIn and Twitter, or visit his website and read his blog about social SEO.

What is the goal of link building?

Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your website. In search engine optimization, the goal of link building is to increase the amount of quality inbound links to a website in order to improve its ranking.

What is link building in simple terms? Link building refers to the marketing efforts of getting links from other websites to your website. It is considered to be one of the most powerful tools to get higher search engine rankings for your website.

What is a link building strategy? What is link building? Link building is the practice of creating one-way hyperlinks (aka “backlinks”) to a website with the goal of increasing search engine visibility. Common link building strategies include content marketing, building useful tools, email outreach, broken link building, and public relations.

What is a backlink in SEO?

A backlink is when one website links to another with anchor text. An example of a backlink is any article that links to another source or website. Examples of website backlinks can be found all over the internet, especially on popular blog sites that link to relevant content.

What is the difference between links and backlinks? Link building is the process of creating links to your website from other websites. This can be done through directories, social media, guest blogging, or any other method of getting links from other sites. Backlinks are links that point to your website from other websites.

How do I get SEO backlinks? How to Get Quality Backlinks in 2022 (7 New Strategies)

  • Become a resource for reporters and bloggers.
  • Publish “Skyscraper” content.
  • Create links from outdated resources.
  • Use content formats that are proven to generate links.
  • Publish ultimate guides.
  • Use branding strategies and techniques.
  • Authority Resource Pages.

What is a backlink and how does it work?

Backlinks are created when a website links to another website. Also known as inbound or inbound links, backlinks make their connection through external websites. These links from external domains refer to pages of your own domain.

What is a backlink How do you use backlinks? Backlinks are links from one page on one website to another. If someone links to your website, then you have a backlink from them. If you link to another website, then that website has a backlink from you. For example, these words link to YouTube, so now they have a backlink from us.

What is a backlink and why is it important for SEO?

Although they may sound simple, backlinks are essential for SEO. Backlinks – also known as inbound or one-way links – are simply links that point to your website from another website. The best thing about backlinks is that they help promote your blog or website by simply being hyperlinks to you from another source.

Are backlinks still important for SEO? Backlinks are still important for SEO performance as they form the basis of Google’s original PageRank algorithm. Countless independent studies in the SEO industry have demonstrated the impact of backlinks on organic search performance.

How do backlinks affect SEO?

Backlinks are important for SEO because search engines see all of these tokens of trust as proof that your content is valuable. When many websites link to yours, search engines are more likely to show your content in search results and improve your ranking for the linked topics.

How many backlinks are good for SEO? A website should have 40-50 backlinks to the homepage and 0-100 backlinks to each individual webpage to be competitive for SEO. However, the PageRank values ​​of these backlinks are important because the higher their value, the fewer links are needed to improve the overall ranking.

What are link building mistakes?

Link Building to Low-Quality Content Another common link building mistake is linking back from authority sites to a thin, low-quality article. When it comes to link building, you shouldn’t just focus on finding authority and relevant pages. Remember, you also need to focus on creating content worthy of those backlinks.

Why is link building difficult? Link building is difficult because it is time consuming and difficult to get links with a low Domain Authority (DA). These links may not even affect your website’s SEO ranking. On the other hand, acquiring high DA links is even harder. Link building is essentially like buying real estate.

What is three way link building?

In a three-way link exchange, Site A agrees to link Site C to Site B. Site B agrees to link to Site A in exchange for Site C’s link. The purpose of the three-way link exchange is to trick Google into seeing the links as one-way connections and not two-way connections.

What does link building mean? In short, link building is the process of establishing relevant hyperlinks (usually referred to as links) to a website from outside websites. Link building can increase the number of quality links pointing to a website, which in turn increases the likelihood that the website will rank high in search engine results.

What is the point of link building? Link building, simply put, is the process of getting other websites to link to your website. All marketers and business owners should be interested in building links to increase referral traffic and increase their site’s authority.

What are the three types of link?

There are generally three types of links: Internal links – hyperlinks that lead from one page to another within your own website; External links – hyperlinks leading from your website to another resource; Backlinks – Hyperlinks leading to yours from another website.

What is a link and its types?

What are different types of link in computer?

These are ASCII, LPD, LPR, SNA3270P, TCPASCII, TN3270E, and 3270P connections.

What are links in the computer? On a website, a hyperlink (or link) is an element, such as a word or button, that points to another location. When you click a link, the link takes you to the link destination, which can be a web page, document, or other online content. Websites use hyperlinks to navigate online content.

What are the 3 parts of links? Using the URL in this article as an example, the three basic parts of a URL to understand are the protocol, domain name, and path.