Does The Number Of Links On A Page Affect Ranking?
by Jon Ricerca
Lots of research has focused on inbound links to a site,
but little has focused on the number of links actually on
a page (outbound or to other parts of a site). Many SEO
gurus have recently been talking about something they
call "PR Leak" which seems to be a theory that the more
outbound links you have, the more your page rank on
Google "leaks" away. That concept isn't found in the
academic papers published by the founders of Google, but
does seem to be accepted by a majority of SEOs. I decided
it was time to take a look at the number of links present
on a page and how that number correlates with ranking.
The methodology: I gathered the results of the queries
that were naturally performed last month by myself and
three associates using the two leading search engines and
analyzed them. I counted the number of links on the page
(references to "href") and tabulated the results against
the ranking of the URL in the search results. The
tabulated results were finally converted into a
normalized "ranking correlation." The results for each of
the two leading search engines were kept separate so that
we could discover any differences between the two leading
search engines for this factor.
The resulting graphs show the results for groupings of
number of links normalized into a number between -100 and
+100 showing the likelihood of being ranked higher/lower.
A value of +100 shows that all 10 rankings were in the
proper order to show that pages of the studied value
ALWAYS rank HIGHER than pages of another value. A value
of -100 shows that all 10 rankings were in the proper
order to show that pages of the studied value ALWAYS rank
LOWER than pages of another value. Numbers in between show
the varying likelihood of rankings proportionally between -
100 and +100.
That is the number you see on the Y-axis. On the X-axis,
we have the number of links found. They are grouped into
sets of 10 in order to increase the statistical
significance with the amount of data we had available to
analyze. Here are the graphs for the two leading search
The number of links were grouped in this way in order to
increase the number of data points available.
Unfortunately it also reduces the precision of the
results. One is able to see that 91-100 links rank much
higher than 1-10 links, but you are unable to see if 77
links rank differently than 79 links (for example).
The result is very conclusive. Both leading search engines
rank pages with more links much higher than pages with
fewer links! Once again, it appears that the SEOs touting
the "PR Leak" theory are simply wrong. If their theory
held any weight at all, we should see the exact opposite.
Pages with more links should rank lower on average.
1. There was no exercise to attempt to isolate different
keywords. I merely took a random sampling of the queries
performed by myself and three associates during the month.
2. This is merely a correlation study, so it cannot be
determined from this study whether the leading search
engines purposefully entertain this factor or not. The
actual factors used may be far distant from the factor we
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