“Does Google Consider Referral Traffic When Determining the Value of a Backlink?” Googler Responds

Did you get a link from a ‘high-traffic’ site? Okay, but...does it really count for the reason you think it does?
SIA Team
September 21, 2021

You probably know that if you have great content that you want to share, you’re usually encouraged to share it with influencers and others who may find your content valuable.

Some people say that it’s good to have your content on–and links from–high-value sites. Some determine how valuable a site is by looking at the MOZ metric of Domain Authority or ahrefs metric of Domain Rating

(Also, keep in mind that you have to look at the page metrics too, not just the overall domain metrics.)

This is understandable. I believe that the MOZ and ahref metrics mentioned above are the respective efforts of each brand’s attempt to replicate something known as Google Page Rank, or PR. 

PR is basically how Google measures the value of a page, and when it was publicly available, PR was on a scale of 0 to 10. Each page in Google’s index was somewhere on this scale. 

Does High Value Equal High Traffic?

So, what does all this have to do with traffic?

Well, broadly speaking, a more valuable website (or, a more valuable web page), generally gets more traffic. 

And, that’s understandable: if people find a certain site or resource valuable, the more likely they are to mention or link to it. Hence, the more traffic that resource gets.

But, does a site that gets traffic necessarily have more people clicking on its links?

Well, statistically, yes, since it has more people. 

But, is Google specifically looking at that?

That’s basically the question that was asked of Google Search Advocate John Mueller, during the September 17th Q&A session. 

This video is queued to the ~17:06 mark, which is when the question was asked.

I’ve re-stated the question below:

“So, when it’s crawling these backlinks, does Google either look at the referral traffic and play that into the algorithm or does it try to assess whether there’s a high propensity to click on that link and…pass link equity [accordingly]?”

“We Don’t Use Things Like Traffic”

John’s response was, “I don’t think so. So, we don’t use things like traffic through a link when trying to evaluate how a link should be valued.

“As far as I know we don’t also don’t look at things like the probability that someone will click on a link with regards to how we should value it.”

Okay, good. So, Google doesn’t look at link traffic, or the probability that someone will click on a link.

And the reasoning makes sense: “…because sometimes, links are essentially just references, and it’s not so much that we expect people to click on every link on a page…I don’t think we would be taking that into account when it comes to evaluating the value of the link.”

So, there you have it. Link traffic isn’t a consideration.

Source: Google Search Central YouTube channel