By Duncan Heath
Most SEOs realise that by and large the distribution of power on the web is dictated by links. In very crude terms, the more links you have and the more powerful the sites are that link to you, the more credibility you will have in the search engines’ eyes, and the better your chances of ranking are – that’s pretty basic SEO.
What is not so simple however is how the age of a link affects the power it yields, and whether you need to keep building links to a site in order to maintain power and rankings? Well, here are a few points to consider:
As with most things in the world of SEO, there is divided opinion on whether the age of a domain has an influence on how much authority it is given by search engines. I think this is a really good post on the subject and without getting into this difficult argument too much, my experience tells me that domain age does matter. If you subscribe to the idea that domain age is an algorithm factor, then if you think about it, link age must be as well. If a domain increases in power over time, then by definition so do the links that are contained on that domain. So I think it is reasonable to suggest that old links pointing to your site increase in power rather than decrease.
Query Deserves Freshness (QDF)
We know that with the arrival of social sites such as Twitter and Facebook, which allow users to search for up to the minute information among their peers, search engines have been pushing to provide more ‘real-time’ and ‘fresh’ results in their SERPS. This spawned the term “Query Deserves Freshness” which basically means that in Google’s ranking algorithm, the ‘freshness’ of a result is taken into consideration (for certain search terms).
As fresh content tends to generate fresh links, there is a clear argument here that you cannot necessarily rely on old links to provide rankings, no matter how widespread or powerful they are.
Using simple logic, if people are not currently linking to content, it’s unlikely that it’s very popular at that time, and probably not what they want to see in search results. I often see on my surf clothing site for example that the newest pages with the freshest links often outrank my older pages, despite them having a much larger back link profile.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, competition often forces us to continue our link building activities indefinitely. There is a great expression about link building that states all you need to do to beat your competition in the SERPS is to “match and exceed”. If you can investigate the back link profile of your competition, gain the links they have for your site as well, and then exceed what they have, chances are you will outrank them. This logic is what drives link build efforts forward and means that you must continue to garner links to your site to prevent being overtaken by the competition.
So in conclusion, old links may get more powerful over time, but if you don’t continue your link building campaigns, you’re likely to get left behind.
Duncan Heath is an SEO engineer and Internet marketing expert with over 5 years experience. He runs his own extreme sports site that compares everything from surfboards to flip flops. You can follow his business on Twitter.