Are exchanged or reciprocal links okay with Google?
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Referral traffic does not increase the link’s equity

Referral traffic does not increase the link's equity

When Google assesses how much weight should be given to backlinks, it does not consider factors such as referral traffic or whether the link is clicked.

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

Google’s John Mueller is asked a question about link equity, and whether it increases based on how much traffic the link sends from one domain to another.

Mueller also deals with whether Google assigns a link more value if it is located where users are likely to click on it.

Google’s John Mueller on Link Equity

Asked whether Google considers referral traffic when determining the weight to be given backlinks, Mueller says:


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“We do not use things like traffic via a link when we try to evaluate how a link should be valued. As far as I know, we do not look at things like the likelihood of someone clicking on a link in terms of how we should value it. ”

It’s pretty clipped and dry, but Mueller goes on to explain why referral traffic and clickthrough rates do not increase link equity.

In short – a backlink is just a reference.

Google understands that backlinks are often added to content as citations, and users are not expected to click on every link they encounter.


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“Because sometimes links are essentially just references, and it’s not so much that we expect people to click on every link on a page. But if someone refers to your site and says like – I do this because this expert here said do it – then people will not click on that link and always look at your site and confirm what is written there.

But they will see it as almost a reference. It’s like if they needed to find out more information, they could go there, but they do not have to. And from that point of view, I do not think we would take it into account when it comes to evaluating the value of a link. ”

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

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

It is not determined by click, bounce rate, or other user interaction metrics.

“… If you look at how PageRank works, it’s a little different today how we handle it. But basically the idea behind it is that generally with PageRank you set up a certain value for the individual pages, and then you pass on a fraction of that value through the links there.

If the page is seen as being very high, the links from there will be treated with a little bit more weight compared to a random page on the internet.

As I know, we do not do it exactly the same as it was in the beginning in terms of PageRank, but it’s a good way of thinking about it. ”


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Hear Mueller’s full answer in the video below:

Featured Image: Screenshot from, September 2021.

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