Understanding The First Link Counts Rule

Have you heard of the ‘First Link Priority Rule’? It is a rule which has been around for quite a while now, but from what I’ve seen recently a worrying number of web developers and SEO’s still seem to be largely oblivious. I thought it would be worthwhile to quickly run through what it’s all about.

The rule states that Google will only count the first instance of an anchor text link on a page. So if you include a link in your main navigation menu for which the anchor link text is “spinach juicer”, and then linked to the same page within the body content using ‘vegetable juicer’, then only the anchor text “spinach juicer” would be associated to the target webpage.

There are two exceptions to this rule. If you include two links on a page which both point to the same URL, and one of them is a text link, and one a graphical link, Google will typically only pay attention to the text link, regardless of which appears first on the page.

The second exception is that if you have two text links on the page pointing to the same URL and one of them is a ‘no follow‘ link you may find that both links are ignored.

So the simplest message here is that you should always optimise the first instance of anchor text for each URL. It is easy to forget that sometimes you may have links in your main navigation bar, your footer and within the text itself.

Quick Anchor Text Link Tips;

  • Optimise the first instance of the anchor text link.
  • Vary the anchor text you use to link to a specific page – Consider using branded and partial anchor text links.
  • Use hashtags to link to a page using multiple anchor text links (Top Tip!)
  • Only link to a page if it seems natural and offers a purpose to the visitor.
  • Text Links in sidebars and footers offer little value.


If you are still not clear on the First Link Priority Rule, or need further clarification, please leave your messages below and we will endeavour to respond as quickly as possible.


Image Credit: joshauriemma.com