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Link Juice is a Finite Resource

Link Juice, which I shall use to refer to the combined weighting of link relevance, importance, and anchor text is a finite resource. A given website has a finite amount of this asset and then must decide how to allocate it. To refine this statement a little bit, you can think of a site as having internal link juice (from its own pages) and external link juice (from editorial links from other web sites).
With your internal link juice, you tell the search engines which pages on the site are the most important to you. There are two major ways to do this:

  1. Your information architecture (or internal link structure)
  2. PageRank sculpting (or siloing) using NoFollow, NoIndex, and Robots.txt

Many sites have a footer navigation, with elements such as an “About Us” page, a “Privacy Policy” page, and other such general pages. Because this footer navigation appears on every page of the site, they become the most important pages to the search engine. This is the biggest example of why PageRank sculpting makes sense.
But there are other aspects to this as well. Perhaps you have heard that one parameter to be aware of is how many clicks it is from the home page to your content. In general, this is good advice. However, if you make everything one click away from the home page, and you have a 100,000-page site, you have a lousy architecture.
For one thing, the search engine will only look at the first 100 to 300 or so links, so the rest of your site will never be crawled. In addition, it’s a lousy user experience. Last, but not least, this assumes that all your pages have equal value, and they don’t.
Ultimately, one thing you just can’t be lazy about in putting together a website – deciding what the most important pages are. These are the pages that carry the most important messaging or make you the most money. Figuring this out, and then designing an information architecture that tells both users and search engines that is best built into a site design from the very beginning.
You can use NoFollow to sculpt your link juice away from your Privacy Policy page, but that is not enough. You also need to proactively decide what the most important pages are on your site and decide on a strategy on making that clear to both users and search engines. You can highlight the most important pages or sections of your site in a supplemental footer nav, sidebar nav, or on the home page.
It’s a decision you must make unless you want to let the search engines do it for you.

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Eric Enge

Eric Enge is part of the Digital Marketing practice at Perficient. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO.

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