Search Engine Indexing – First Link Only?

Do Search Engines only consider the first link on a page when determining link value?

SEOW-First-Link-590-300Algorithms used in Search Engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing to rank and index websites are constantly fine-tuned and changed to improve Search Engine results. One of the highly contested SEO debates over the last few weeks is whether Search Engines only consider the first link on a page (that points to another internal page or external website) when determining link value.

Research Conducted

Research  shows if you have multiple links pointing to the same page, then only the first link that Google (and possibly other Search Engines) finds will have link relevance. This is further backed up by research that suggests the top most link will be valued for Search Engine results pages (SERPS).

To demonstrate, Site A has two links pointing to a page on Site B (that has no links pointing to Site A). Site A’s home page consists of its own navigation menu, a short paragraph of text with a link inside the text to Site B and a second (footer paragraph) with the same link to Site B.

In testing these results, Site B is ranked (found on Search Engines) only for the first link, and not the second.

Link Strategy Recommendations

Given the early research into this area, we can recommend the following link strategy for your website:

No Follow tags: Use No Follow tags on your navigation and footer menus. No Follow means that the Search Engines will not pass link value through them, but will still crawl them to index these pages. Consider this carefully though as there is also recent evidence that using the “nofollow” attribute can dilute the overall value passed by ALL links.

Keywords: Place your most important keyword in your link as high as possible on the page.

Links: Additional links can point to other pages on your website (just not the same page) which in turn can point back to your primary pages. Place your secondary keyword in your secondary link and so on. Also, the fewer links you do have on a page, the more value each link has.

These recommendations are based on the preliminary research that has been done in this area which is by no means conclusive. As other research comes to light or further tests are conducted, we will post a follow-up article and report our findings.