A good question many website owners have at the back of their minds is whether or not the first link in your webpage will affect your page rankings or the effectiveness of your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Is deciding what the first link in your page is a factor in SEO at all or not? In the visitor's perspective, it kind of is the latter—your first link isn't as important as your content or overall link relevancy, it'd seem.
Is Your First Link a Factor in SEO?
It's really not that important, or at least not as important as building your collection of internal links or external links (backlinks). In the overall scheme of things, your first link is but a drop in the bucket or a mere tree in an entire forest. It's much more important for SEO to focus on building a good and solid internal links library or have a collection of highly relevant and potentially beneficial external links in order to gain a favorable page ranking from all the popular search engines out there.
How Google Deals with Website Links
If you have a thousand links on hand, the first link won't matter much in the big picture, so to speak. You won't get any special benefits, and Google itself has a tendency to parse a page and decide (through its unique, ever-evolving algorithm and a site's "high quality" content) which of the links are most relevant. As long as the link is there and a person can find and click it, the Google bot can do the same and provide you the page ranking you deserve.
Google will be the one that'll try to find your most important (read: relevant) links for you. On the other hand, placement is vital if there's a significant link you want your visitors to immediately find, but that's more of a design issue than an SEO one in light of how Google parses links. How links affect your page ranking is more about quality, not quantity or immediate visibility on the first page (though that can be a factor... just not a particularly SEO-worthy one).
Same Destination Links and Different Anchor Text
As for links with similar destinations, the question would be: Is the first link more important than the second link in terms of anchor text? In regards of same link destinations with differing anchor text, does the first one gain priority over the second one? A few people have tested this issue (and this is something anyone with a website can test for themselves), and the consensus seems to be that it remains a non-factor.
There are those who believe that relevant links are only searched for by the search engine in certain areas (e.g., article body and resource box), so that may be the reason why "first links" remain mostly a non-factor in the first place: SEO and web promotion experts tend to focus more on keeping the website on-topic with relevant internal links and backlinks in predetermined areas of the website. SEO success is not an issue of clicking on the nearest available link; it's the overall structure and relevance of all the links that's important.
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