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If the anchor text is www.site1.example but the link actually directs to www.random2.example, would link juice be passed in this instance to random2.example?

For example:

<a href="https://www.random2.example/">www.site1.example</a>
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I think this is subjective; I don't see how we can possibly know for sure whether a single link has benefited the target site in Google's algorithm.

On the face of it, so called "link juice" is passed to the target site (not necessarily the value of the HREF attribute if there are additional redirects involved).

However, in this example, the anchor is clearly deceptive with the intention to mislead users. There is no good reason to do this. So, I think the question is really whether the search engines (Google) pick up on this deception. Google is likely to not look favourably on sites that try to deceive users, so I imagine this could even count against the site hosting the anchor. Users may also start to distrust the site if they pick up on this (I know I certainly would - classic "phishing" technique).

  • There could be legit cases where it isn't deception. For example you change the domain name for your site. Do the old links that contain the anchor text of your old domain name still help you? – Stephen Ostermiller Jan 29 at 15:05
  • @StephenOstermiller I'm not sure what you're saying? The anchor text should either reflect the same URL it is linking to, or it should contain some meaningful link text that doesn't "look like" a (different) URL. If you change the domain name for your site then you either change the link text as well, or you have some normal (non-URL-like) link text, eg. "link to my site". (Or just keep the old link and redirect.) – MrWhite Jan 29 at 15:50
  • I'm reading "directs" as "redirects" in the question. I guess it isn't clear what they mean. Or maybe it is clear and I'm just mis-reading it. :-) On further reflection, it looks like my edits had a flaw in them that you corrected and this question isn't about redirects at all. – Stephen Ostermiller Jan 29 at 16:10
  • @StephenOstermiller Yes, I don't think they are referring to "redirects" here. Just ordinary (deceptive) links like: www.google.com – MrWhite Jan 29 at 16:41

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