Google Webmaster Videos: Do multiple links from one page to another page count?

pagerank-knowFew weeks ago Google announced the new series of Google Webmaster Help Videos and requested from SEOs and Webmasters to post their questions. One of the questions that our team posted was the following:

“If we add more than one links from page A to page B, do we pass more PageRank juice and additional anchor text info? Also can you tell us if links from A to A count?”

Even though we posted this question a week after the initial announcement, thanks to your votes (and the good will of Matt Cutts) here is the reply:

So, did Matt Cutts actually reply our question?

First of all let me say Matt that yes, this can be considered as a PageRank Sculpting question but mainly it was a question on how Google currently handles multiple links. Unfortunately you focused only how the initial academic paper described PageRank.

Also, as far as I know in the original academic paper of PageRank (The PageRank Citation Ranking: Bringing Order to the Web published by Page Lawrence and Brin Sergey), there was no clear indication on whether self-hyperlinks actually counted and how multiple links from page A to B were handled. In fact based on the context it seems that they more likely kept only one of all the links. And it was due to this vagueness that few years later Monica Bianchini, Marco Gori and Franco Scarselli from University of Siena published the academic paper Inside PageRank.

According to the authors of this paper, the reason why they decided to conduct more research on PageRank was because “In spite of its relevance, the theoretical properties of PageRank are only partially understood. In order to explain the computational properties of the algorithm, most of the authors [Ng et al. 2001b; Zhang and Dong 2000; Brin et al.1999] cite the general theory of Markov chains [Motwani and Raghavan 1995;Seneta 1981]. However, such a theory can be applied to PageRank only under the assumption that the Web does not contain dangling pages.”.

In the same paper the authors introduced the notion of energy “which represents the sum of PageRank for all pages of a given community”. The community can be a single website or a group of websites (that’s a useful method for detecting 3-way linking, isn’t it? ;) ). In this paper we can find the detailed mathematical description of how the maximization of the Energy of a particular community (website) can be achieved and what exactly are the effects of outgoing links to the total Energy. Similarly to what the PageRank sculpting technique is trying to achieve, the authors of the article describe the effect of those outgoing links on the total Energy of the community and propose ways to maximize the total PageRank of specific pages.

Do we really care?

“So what?” you might ask. Why do we care about how Google treats multiple links and self-hyperlinks? “PageRank is dead” you might say. Nevertheless this is more of a question of how Google treats those links rather than how PageRank is computed.

On the above academic paper, it is clearly shown that depending on how we treat the above links the PageRank distribution heavily changes. This becomes even more obvious when we have to find which pages are considered Dangling pages. Due to the fact that Page and Brin have not clearly defined in the original paper how PageRank actually treats self-hyperlinks, the authors of the above academic paper conduct separate research for each case. In the first case the self-hyperlinks are considered and in the second they are not. The different results are presented in their analysis.

So, since Google continues to suggest that PageRank is still one of the important signals in their algorithms (1 out of many signals), I think that we ought to care. What is the effect of multiple links from page A to B? How does the editorial weight changes? How many anchor texts are actually passed? If a single anchor text is passed, does Google try to select the most relevant one or they select only the first one (this has serious implications on the example of the “linked logo” that Matt Cutts mentions on the video)? Do self-hyperlinks count and do they pass PageRank and anchor text?

Obviously we are not asking from Google to disclose sensitive details on how they operate but rather for the general policy that currently Google has for such cases.

The most likely scenario

By far the most likely scenario is that Google does not conceders self-hyperlinks at all because this could be easily manipulated and also it does not make any sense in terms of authority. Moreover Google probably takes into account one of the links, probably the one that is more likely to be clicked by the user (position, styles, font size etc). Concerning the anchor text that it is passed, it is quite likely that they take into account all the anchor texts but they pass the one that is more relevant to the target page.

That would be my guess on how Google handles the above cases. So once again Matt, how do you count self-hyperlinks and how do you handle multiple links to the same page? :)

TRY THE WSA TOOLBOX
  • Tom

    Matt kept using the phrase “worry” in his answer and subsequent explanations of how PageRank flows. I took your question to be motivated not only by a desire to achieve and benefit from PageRank but also to be driven by the intellectual pursuit of understanding PageRank for its own sake. I think in a venue where Matt wasn’t answering the question for potentially millions of people who do actually “worry” about it, that you would have gotten a much more satisfying answer.

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  • Eldo from weboptimization4u

    Matt does seem to be skirting around your question by (more than once) referring to the original paper by Page and Brin.

    Why doesn’t he just answer what you’re asking him? Google has evolved a lot since its early days, and his referring to a paper written years ago is not helpful.

    A bit of a cheek to say he’s answering your question when he’s clearly being evasive.

  • Astro Gremlin

    Now I’m really confused. Maybe it’s best that we don’t know all the mysteries so that we keep behaving in a fairly normal way. Google *wants* its algorithm to act like a person so natural links, including internal links, are probably a safe bet.

  • seo services philippines

    I’m confused too. maybe a much simpler article would help. Well, anyway, I’ll agree with Astro that Google wants it algorithm to be like a person, so we have to build our links naturally and of course build also our internal links.

  • heart jacking

    it sounds good.
    now, if i submit an article in a directory, with 1 link to my homepage, another one to my contact page :
    how does the pagerank juice work ?

    regards

  • Lem

    Wait, I’m a little confused as well..
    If I create multiple links from page A to page B Google regards only the most relevant Anchor text attached, along with the links position and weight in the page for the one link he’s going to give juice to?
    In it’s base it makes sense, however it kind of opens the door for wannabe SEO’s that will just make lots of links to a page, gambling with anchor text.. Just to see what hits. It’s just like 10 years ago..

    ..Or am I missing something?

  • Burglar Alarms Maidenhead

    For the best results in the long term, be careful that you do not get spammy on the way you link both internally and externally. This must by all accounts be a gradual effort.

  • Andrew Belov

    So again just as I would expect from a google employee were told we should not be worrying about page rank and we should focus on content. We know all of this the question was not about how I create the most content in the shortest amount of time it was about linking. So what was this answer that talked about the original documents do those original documents still apply or was he just dancing around our question.

    There is no way that what he said about linking your site to itself could be true or maybe it is good to a certain extent like if you link more than three links back to yourself anything after that diminishes in value. I didnt get much out of his answer except the term “pagerank hoarder” I love it hehehe.

    Andrew

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