SEO 101 with Matt Cutts: How PageRank Handles Multiple Links in One Page Pointing to the Same Target
PageRank, the algorithm used by Google Search to rank websites in SERPs, has experienced periodic updates. However, some of the fundamental principles of PageRank have only changed slightly over the years.
In a Google Webmasters video uploaded on May 28, 2014, Google’s Matt Cutts explained how the flow of PageRank is impacted when it involves two links on the same page (each with different anchor text) pointing to the same target.
While Cutts felt that there was more to prioritize in SEO than what he called “splitting hair stuff,” he acknowledged the validity of the question. Cutts explained that two links from one page going to the same target would indeed flow PageRank. PageRank would get divided evenly among all the outgoing links as per the original PageRank paper.
In the original PageRank paper, if two links both go to the same page, than twice as much PageRank would flow to that page. Different anchor text wouldn’t affect the flow of PageRank. Cutts went on to describe Google’s link extraction process, which annotates and affixes links to the documents they point to.
The link extraction process could select all the links on the page, some of the links, or as Cutts last checked in 2009, just one of the multiple links “from a given page”. He was quick to point out, however, that this “behavior changes over time.”
A 2008 study by Moz confirms what Cutts said, claiming that the first anchor text is counted, but the last isn’t. Cutts confirmed in the video that a year after the Moz study, PageRank still follows this principle.
Cutts stated that analyzing the flow of PageRank from multiple links on a page pointing to the same target is not nearly as important as the more vital parts of search engine optimization—like ensuring that great content can be found on the site, that the site is responsive, etc. These, and other reports from Google, clearly affirm that creating a great user experience is the surest way to improving rankings on SERPs.
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