Improve Google Rankings: First Priority Link

Improve Google Rankings: First Priority Link

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how to improve google rakings through first link


When it comes down to improving Google search engine ranking, I bet we all will do what it takes to get on that coveted first page or better yet, #1 spot.

What we’ll be talking about here today doesn’t require much effort (although might require some technical expertise), but can have a great impact on your search engine placement.


Defining First Link Priority

The first link that a search engine spider sees in your web page’s code is the link that it gives the MOST WEIGHT TO.

That means that if your pages have a link in their top set of navigation (like a set of tabs that lead to your home page, or “contact us” page, or “about us” page, etc.) and those links are the FIRST LINKS that the search engine spider sees…

…those links, and their ANCHOR TEXT (the words that give the pages they point to their “Reputation”) will have the MOST POWER.

Take a look at this infographic (Source: Market Samurai blog):

improve google rankings with first link priority

As you can see from the image, both Link 1 and Link 2 are one and the same link going to Page B.

The first link is an image though that doesn’t / can’t contain any anchor text.

So according to first link priority theory, Link A will count and WILL pass the link juice, BUT without any anchor text. However, the second anchor-text-rich link won’t count at all.

What does that mean to you?

  • What if the tabs at the top of your page says “Home“? Is that what you’d like to see your Home Page ranked for?
  • What if your right-handed navigation has short phrases or single words that lead to your sub-pages? Are those single words what you want your sub-pages to rank for?
  • If you’re using Footer links on your site to help funnel Link Reputation, those footer links are playing second fiddle to the links at the top of the page.

How to Put Theory into Practice

The best explanation on how to make sure your first link is the most important one with your chosen anchor text I found on, once again, Market Samurai blog,

In the video, Ben Strickland goes through the two step process of addressing First Link Priority issue:

1. How to identify which pages have the problem.

2. How to fix it.

Will it improve your Google rankings?

This section of the post is for those avid SEO bloggers who are already starting to bombard me with “But, Ana…” Make sure you tell me what you think in comments!

Let’s start with Matt Cutts’ video where he simply states (paraphrased) – “Forget about it.” (Source:

As usual, when Matt Cutts says something, especially on a contradictory topic, I take it with a grain of salt. This is one of those cases.

Then there was a conversation on Debra Mastaler’s blog when she called Matt Cutts to the “batphone” over multiple links on the same page.

Her question was: Does Google only pass link popularity through the first anchor text link (on a page) it comes across?

Matt replied twice, the first time saying:

Dudibob, no, I confirmed the converse: if the anchortext is the same, we’ll typically drop the second link.

This is the sort of thing where people can run experiments to see whether different anchortexts flow in various ways.

Trust me, there are many blogs that support First Link Priority theory (just Google the topic, if in doubt), conducted test to prove it works (for instance, this one), and I am convinced this is something I need and will do for Traffic Generation Cafe.

By the way, this is what my home page looks like with CSS disabled:

improve google rankings with first priority link

As you can see, my home page does need help!

Marketing Takeaway

As for me, I am fixing it.

As for you, you tell me – below in the comments.

Image source:

ana hoffman First link priority

traffic generation cafe comment below

Google+ Comments

35 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. Bob Ramanousky@mobile marketing

    Hey Ana,
    I passed your link on to a SEO friend of mine and he said that he tested this in the past and also found that it did make some difference. As you said, it didn’t propel anyone to number one instantly, but it did make some difference. I think beginning SEO people are sometimes so focused on trying to get to number one with a new gimmick or piece of information, that they forget that it is a marathon and not a sprint. A marathon runner has pacing techniques, which by themselves, don’t add any immediate speed to his running, but help him not to burn himself out so that he can get to the end successfully. Google local search is more of a kind of SEO that can get more instant results that some SEO people love. It, however, doesn’t get the organic placement and the power that goes with it. Thanks again, Ana.

    • Very well-noted, Bob.

      I am yet to learn of a silver bullet in SEO.

      However, put it together bit by bit, and all of a sudden, you’ll have a building.

  2. Another great post, Ana! I was seriously going brainstorming blog topic ideas and one of my proposed blog posts was going to dissect the first link on a page. I guess I can still explain the various backlink types but reference your very thorough article. 😉

  3. I think there is much debate all over the SEO comunity about this. Some say the first link counts more, some say Google indexes only a limited amount od links and so on.

    It is hard to know what is the truth. I would say it si beter to be on top than on the bottom of the link list but that is it. I wouldn’t say that the first link is special in some way.

    Keep up the good work.


  4. Hi Ana,

    Glad to visit your blog!! The stuff is as usual amazing in your blog , and especially glad to know abt the imp of first link priority..


  5. I wonder if this is something that Thesis takes care of for us? My first link is the text link for my site’s name. It is not something I would have knowingly done myself.

    The more of these type of posts I read, the more I think I should just forget about anything past the basic SEO techniques. That’s not to say this isn’t a valuable post, but I wonder if chasing down every little bit of SEO advantage is worth the focus you lose on your blog’s content and community. Still, my inner geek loves this kind of stuff. 😉

    Thanks for sharing this info with us, Ana.

    • Incorporating all the small elements helps to get your website to the top of Google. With practice, it becomes natural to incorporate it all. I don’t feel that my website loses any of its community aspect by incorporating SEO techniques.

  6. I agree with you. But most of the blogs these days use image as their logo, mainly for branding but I guess that can dilute the weight of their main keyword that may be used somewhere else on the page.

    • Well, you can still use the image as the first link, Bidhan, just coded differently according to the directions.

  7. Ana – Nice to see that you both your advice and execution are good. Traffic Generation Cafe rank #1 on Google for the phrase “first priority link”. Well done.

  8. Scott Webb | Photography Incubator

    This is pretty interesting. I’ve been working on my homepage to be a stronger page that launches people into various areas of my site. I feel as if it’s working but I want to tweak things more.

    From what I can see, the navigation is important but it can look really weird if keywords are there [especially if they require a lot of space].

    I’ll have to look at this more. I am not sure if it’s been noted but this is when a top nav and then a “main nav” could come in handy. The top Nav could navigate using a few keywords and the main nav still look and feel acceptable. I’m actually going to test so many things as I start a new site up for my photography. See how quick it can climb search engine ranks.

    I better keep track so that I can use it as a case study when it rocks! [right? eek]

  9. Ian Belanger

    Hi Ana,

    This is why I keep coming back to TGC. I never would have thought of this on my own. Awesome post Ana!

    I will have to read this again, watch the video a couple of times and oh yeah get the code.

    Thanks Ana for sharing and have a great day!


      • Ian Belanger

        Hey Ana,

        You did explain it well enough for the non-techies, but I am kind of a techie, so I don’t mind playing around with a little code.

        I should’ve said thanks for the link to the code :)

        Thanks Ana

  10. Oh my!! Japanese speaking again Ana! Now, I have to read this post a couple of times :)

    I have no doubt that many people have no idea about this issue, bloggers especially. SEO is so geared towards “sites” and not blogs….sometimes it’s difficult to find legit information on SEO for bloggers. However, I always know where to visit to get my accurate info. **cough**…you silly :)

    Talk soon,


    • Oh, poor excuse, my friend. :) Not for blogs, but static sites? :)

      I know this is a bit out there, but I thought it was interesting and might give an edge to those who can implement it.

      • I guess I could have clarified a bit better. :) An important part of SEO is building links. A lot of people will explain how to get links to your static site to improve on page SEO, but many of those tactics don;t work for bloggers.

        So, finding tried and true practical tips for bloggers to go in search of links is sparse. Unless of course you visit here!

  11. Never know about it. But it’s a very crucial info and I too need to work out on this. I think I better see how you manage your blog first so that I can apply same.. 😉

  12. Firstly, I don’t believe this without more credible supporting evidence, and if it was then shown to be true I wouldn’t spend time on it.

    I have however found this article useful in refining my understanding of SEO and how I think of it. It has refined my understanding and my strategy.

    This approach to SEO could be called “prospecting”, like the gold-rush panners. The obvious metaphor to put forward in place of it would then be “selling picks and shovels”, but while that is valid, it isn’t the point I’m learning here.

    I’ll blog about this in more detail at some point, but my approach to SEO is not to go for get rich quick prospecting claims: discovering the SEO nugget that will rocket me to no. 1… for how long?

    My approach to SEO is to build something that people will want to visit, and then spend just enough (and no more) effort tweaking the nuts and bolts of my pages to make sure Google and other search engines will recognise the fact. Any other tweaking is wasted. And if the product / website are not worth the SERP, it will be a short lived SERP no matter how good the tweaking is.

    So my advice is to ignore this kind of supposed tip, even if you believe it. Focus instead on creating nuggets of gold in your product and website. Then ensure you do just enough SEO tweaking to help others find those nuggets via Google and other engines. Otherwise you are creating ongoing work just to keep your unjustified SERP afloat, thrashing like a drowning man with a millstone rather than a lifebelt.

    Mark (in London)

    • I don’t think there’s such a thing as get rich quick SEO as you called it, Mark.

      All these tips are more like building blocks of a ladder that will eventually lead you to the top.

      Patience and work are in order though.