Matt Cutts Talks Google Link Extraction And PageRank

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In a new video, Matt Cutts, Google's head of webspam, discussed how Google views two links with different anchor text on one page pointing to the same destination, and how that affects PageRank.

The explanation is Cutts' response to the following submitted question:

What impact would two links on a page pointing to the same target, each using different anchor text, have on the flow of PageRank?

He said, "This is kind of an example of what I think of as dancing on the head of a pin. I'll try to give you an answer. If you're telling me that the most important thing for your SEO strategy is knowing what two links from one page do - you know, I understand if people are curious about it - but you might want to step back, and look at the higher mountain top of SEO, and your SEO strategy, and the architecture of your site, and how is the user experience, and how is the speed of the site, and all of that sort of stuff because this is sort of splitting hairs stuff."

"So, with that said," he continued, "looking at the original PageRank paper, if you had two links from one page to another page, both links would flow PageRank, and so the links - the amount of PageRank gets divided evenly (in the original PageRank paper) between all the outgoing links, and so it's the case that if two links both go to the same page then twice as much PageRank would go to that page. That's in the original PageRank paper. If they have different anchor text, well that doesn't affect the flow of PageRank, which is what your question was about, but I'll go ahead and try to answer how anchor text might flow."

"So we have a link extraction process, which is we look at all the links on a page, and we extract those, and we annotate or we fix them to the documents that they point to. And that link extraction process can select all the links, or it might just select one of the links, so it might just select some of the links, and that behavior changes over time. The last time I checked was 2009, and back then, we might, for example, only have selected one of the links from a given page. But again, this is the sort of thing where if you're really worried about this as a factor in SEO, I think it's probably worthwhile to take a step back and look at high order bits - more important priorities like how many of my users are actually making it through my funnel, and are they finding good stuff that they really enjoy? What is the design of my homepage? Do I need to refresh it because it's starting to look a little stale after a few years?"

There's that mention of stale-looking sites again.

The main point here is that you should spend less time nitpicking small things like how much PageRank is flowing from two links on a single page, and what anchor text they're using, and focus on bigger-picture things that will make your site better. This is pretty much the same message we always hear from the company.

Perhaps that's the real reason that Google stopped putting out those monthly lists of algorithm changes.

Image via YouTube

Chris Crum

Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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