Google PageRank Leakage & Misconceptions on PageRank

Sometimes I get quotes like this

"Bottom line, out-going links are always a BAD IDEA for SEO. It creates what we in the SEO community call SEO hemorrhage. It BLEEDS off GOOD PR. Not a good thing. We actually NEED MORE incoming links."


Somewhere in Google's webmaster guidelines is a warning about having more than 100 outbound links on a page. My advice is to take that point very seriously.

Using the same principle proves, at least to us here in this one office, that 101 outbound links on a page (don't forget to count navigation links in the total) may lead to an immediate decrease in absolute PageRank even if it's not demonstrated in the toolbar.

These ideas are typically short sighted and miss a broader view of the web. Is it possible to start from scratch and build up a brand while being completely greedy with your link popularity? Sure it is, but generally it is going to be easier to create a useful site if you are willing to link out to some related resources.

Especially if you write about your industry you have to source some ideas or information. Why avoid social interaction? How can you only view links as a cost? If you link out enough sometimes they come back. Heck sometimes other content authors will even defend your brand for you without you even knowing about it.

What are search engines but link lists? And most of the links are free. And people come back and use them again.

I do have some clients that for a period of time did not link out to some sites that they should of. For about a year or so a client outranked their own manufacturer for the manufacturer brand name in Yahoo! and MSN. In that case I was greedy with the link popularity because I didn't want to lower our exposure. After Yahoo! started ranking the appropriate site #1 for the brand name then I freely linked out to it.

For most any site there are probably at least a few sites that can be linked to.

As far as controlling internal link popularity goes, the reason for the 100 link suggestion was based on page usability. How many options can you give a person before you give them too many to be useful?

As recently noted by Matt, crawl depth is typically a function of PageRank:

One of the classic crawling strategies that Google has used is the amount of PageRank on your pages. So just because your site has been around for a couple years (or that you submit a sitemap), that doesn’t mean that we’ll automatically crawl every page on your site. In general, getting good quality links would probably help us know to crawl your site more deeply.

The theory that I have though is that you have to point at others thoughts that you find interesting if you hope to have others find you interesting. There is only so much one person can do. As a bonus to getting free content ideas by reading and linking at other people sometimes those links come back.

Some people have taken the PageRank funneling concepts to an extreme where they are even heavily using the link nofollow attribute on their own internal links, or whenever they point at official documentation on other sites. Both of which are usually bad form.

To snag a quote from DG

Sorry you fucksticks, but if you've ever used nofollow as anything other than a joke or to fuck someone else, yer an idiot, Just bend over and wrap yer lips around yer own asshole and suck until yer head explodes. At the very least, you'll reduce the number of stupid people that can breed. Follow?

I think things like many nofollows to internal pages might set off some sort of SEO flag. Just like being stingy with outbound links often forces some sites to have unnatural inbound link profiles.

It is just as easy to use links within your content to funnel your link popularity and actively drive users toward your desired goals. In the end goal to funnel visitors one way make sure you make it easy for them to go back in the other direction if they make a mistake or arrive on your site on the wrong page, otherwise you may hurt your conversion rates.

Bleeding PageRank is probably a bit arbitrary when you factor in the larger social aspects of the web. Plus some engines may also look at outbound links when trying to theme the content of your site.

Most content publishers have to vote for at least a few others before too many people are willing to vote for them. If you are a business selling products and services it still makes sense to link to business partners and other useful resources just to increase the depth and richness of your site without needing to recreate the web to do so.

Published: April 10, 2006 by Aaron Wall in seo tips


April 14, 2006 - 10:33am

I think outbound links are actually a (important) factor voor ranking, at least in Google.

Look at all the blogs, most of them are linking to other sites heavily and most of them rank higher than 'normal' sites...

April 10, 2006 - 10:44pm

This is a great article and you are right on. (You don't know me from Adam), but I refer people to your site all the time and talk about you because I think you are one of the true SEO's out there with information worth reading (and a site worth coming back to). You give credit where credit is due and it will come back to you. Just take a look at the linking strategies that Eric Ward has been using for years even before a "Page Rank" frenzy kicked in... Do your best to create quality that people will want to come back to and you will get your reward.

April 10, 2006 - 10:48pm

IMHO, who you link to can have a good effect on your ranking. I have never tried more than 100 on a given page, but I think even 20 non topic links hurt. I like to go to Google and search my pages topic and link to about 2 or 4 of the top sites in Google results. I think G likes it.

April 10, 2006 - 10:52pm

i am trying to add the keyword density tool but i get an error :
can you help. could not find ur email on the site.

heres hoping. the webaddress is :

April 11, 2006 - 4:29am

Hi Lee,
There is a 404 error on your site.

Thanks for the kind words Mat

April 11, 2006 - 5:43am

I used to never link out to other stuff until recently, to show how amazing a change it made my blogs were dead in the water, the first post I did that linked out to related material got traffic from G. It really is all about providing good honest stuff, if you can offer interesting ideas that link to futher cool stuff you are a player homie pimp daddy.

April 12, 2006 - 5:40am

It is my understanding that adding a couple of outbound authority links actually help, not hurt. Especially to .edu and .gov domains. Throwing in a Wiki never hurt either.

June 12, 2007 - 1:22am

I can only see using the nofollow tag in cases like wiki doing it because of the amount of spam. Linking to related pages is good for you pr especially when there is a reciprocal link on the page you are linking to!

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