Off-Page SEO

Link Hoarding

Shahid Maqbool

By Shahid Maqbool
On Jul 4, 2023

Link Hoarding

What is Link Hoarding?

Link hoarding - aka PageRank hoarding - in SEO refers to the practice of acquiring and accumulating a large number of inbound links to a website while refraining from giving outbound links.

The thinking is that outbound links give away some of your ranking power, while inbound links boost it. So hoarding all your links inward can rank you higher in Google.

The problem is that having zero outbound links looks weird - it signals a website does not want to support the broader online community. So even though link hoarding is not totally banned, Google sees it as tricky behaviour.

How does link hoarding work?

Link equity refers to the value a website gains when other sites link back to it. More inbound links increase a website's link equity score. This score helps determine where the site ranks in Google and other search engines.

Link hoarding artificially inflates a website's link equity. It works by getting lots of inbound links but not linking out to others much. This tilts the balance to maximize the flow of value into the site, not out from it.

Webmasters who hoard links might buy links, exchange links, participate in link farms, or use software to generate fake backlinks. The purpose is to pump up the website's link equity by any means possible.

But search engines have gotten better at catching these manipulative tricks. They may punish sites that hoard links just to boost their own status unfairly.

Is link hoarding a bad practice?

Link hoarding is considered a shady SEO tactic. The idea is to get as many sites linking back as possible, while rarely linking out. This artificially grows the site's link equity.

The problem is it offers no real value to visitors - it only selfishly benefits the site doing the hoarding. And search engines may see the behaviour as sneaky and dishonest.

Webmasters should focus on building legitimate connections through high-quality content and outreach.

While link equity does matter, the best approach is earning links naturally over time by providing something useful.

Are nofollow outbound links considered link hoarding?

No, nofollow outbound links are not considered link hoarding. Nofollow links contain a rel="nofollow" attribute in the HTML code, indicating to search engine crawlers to not pass any ranking power.

John Mueller clears this up this way:

John Mueller on link hoarding

Can one gain equity without hoarding links?

Gaining links should happen naturally, not through manipulative tricks.

While link hoarding may temporarily boost rankings, the best long-term strategy is creating useful content that others want to share and link to.

Building real connections in your industry also leads to ethical links and new readers. Joining online forums, offering free tools, and being a helpful community member draws natural links over time.

Search engines reward sites that focus on providing value, not gaming the system. Creating quality content and resources that people genuinely appreciate is the sustainable path to improved rankings.


Link hoarding tries to cheat the system by packing a website full of inbound links to boost its ranking. However, it is considered an unethical tactic that should be avoided.

While hoarding may briefly improve ranking, it does not offer real value to visitors. Over time, search engines are likely to penalize sites that engage in obvious manipulation.

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