Apart from well-known characteristics of backlinks like relevancy, diversity, acquisition rate, etc, are there any other that might be considered as well? Some people wonder if age of backlinks is a factor either.
The short answer, is yes, it is definitely taken into account (I believe). The other question is “how important is it” and what we have here are mere assumptions (apart from a few confirmed facts).
Below I am listing (in no particular order) some cases where backlink age factor might come into play:
- Link freshness: Google patent “Information retrieval based on historical data” describes how age of the links testifies for the document freshness and topicality. It lists the factors that are taken into account to determine how fresh a link is:
The freshness of a link may be determined by the date of appearance/change of the link, the date of appearance/change of anchor text associated with the link, date of appearance/change of the document containing the link. The date of appearance/change of the document containing a link may be a better indicator of the freshness of the link based on the theory that a good link may go unchanged when a document gets updated if it is still relevant and good.
- Age is the factor that cannot be faked; therefore it has always been a signal of trust. If you have a bunch of solid links that have been around for a while and stay on the same place, that’s a good signal to trust your site – and you thus stay away from potential penalties.
- Links that pop up and then disappear can raise a flag. In this case a backlink age is one of multiple signals to identify paid links (remember, it was a common behavior to buy links for one/two months and then unsubscribe if the rankings never go up).
- In cases where “query deserves freshness” (QDF) , new links can boost your rankings even for highly competitive terms (for a short period of time, of course). In this case, a new (“young”) link is like fresh content added to your site. However, too many of those can raise a flag; besides, like I said, this factor is believed to be not equal for all niches.
Do you believe the age of backlinks in overall link profile is an important factor? Or a factor at all? I would love to hear your thoughts.