Can You Have Multiple Links On A Page Pointing To The Same Target?

Multiple links
Creating inbound and outbound links on your website smartly is an important part of SEO. We have talked at length about linking strategies that can protect your blogs against algorithmic penalties. Someone once asked me if it was okay to add two links on a page that point to the same target. I just stumbled across Google's Matt Cutts' response to the question, so I thought I'd share it with our readers.
The question was, whether it is okay if two or more links on a page with different anchor text point to the same target. Now obviously, it's a matter of the flow of PageRank, and could be seen as a violation. Let's see what Google has to say about it.

PageRank flow

As per the original PageRank paper that defines how it works, the flow of PageRank is divided evenly amongst the total number of links on a page. So if there's only one link of a page, all the PageRank flows through it, whereas if there are 10 links, this amount gets divided by 10.

So according to this scheme, if you have two links from one page to another, both would flow PageRank. If the number of links on a page is significant, say more than a dozen, then two links pointing to one page would make almost twice as much PageRank to flow to that page.

Anchor text

The flow of PageRank is not effected by anchor text. If it's a link, there's some PR flowing through it, no matter what the anchor text says. But as far as anchor text itself goes, Google has a link extraction process which looks at all the links on a page, extracts them, and annotate them with the document they're pointing to.

The idea is to establish relationships between pages. Say you have three pages, A B and C. A points to B and C, B points back to A, but not to C. C points at both A and B. There are two links from C to B. So the purpose of the link extraction process is to understand how these pages are linked. Given the above scenario, it might form associations such as A-B, A-C, B-A, C-A, and C-B.

Now a single link or multiple links don't mean anything to this algorithm, whose job it is to simply understand the relationships. So when encountered multiple links to a single target, it might select the first link, or any random link, or some (or all) of the links. The behavior depends, and it changes over time, but doesn't have any real impact on rankings etc.

The takeaway from this post is, even if there is some SEO effect, it is negligible, as this is just one small aspect of SEO, and it would be better to simply focus on more important things. Personally, I would recommend that you use multiple links with care.

If you want to give value to an external page, say in case of a guest post, then multiple links would do more good than harm. Similarly, while internal-linking, if it makes sense to add the same hyperlink with different anchor text, then by all means go ahead. But you probably need to check yourself if you're doing it excessively, such as in the case of installing multiple 'Related Posts' plugins, or referring to an affiliate link again and again - that sort of thing is usually not well received.

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