Is Backlink Age an Important SEO Factor?

SMS Text

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.

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

Brand amd Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing,... Read Full Bio
Ann Smarty
Subscribe to SEJ!
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!
  • Nisha Garg

    That means, if we have an old domain and have unchanged back links since long in addition to new fresh link backs, we are trust worthy πŸ™‚ Great to know about this Ann..

    • Klaus Hanemann

      Short and to the basics – liked that πŸ™‚

  • Shane

    I have always been a believer of old sites and content being seen as an authority to spiders.

  • krishna

    I agree with the point made here. But, how about the back links from aged malicious sites ?. I suspect they are going to have -ve impact here

  • Jim Gaudet

    Kewl, thanks for the info… I was wondering about this as I have a new site (1.2 years PR4) that has been ranking quite well for our main term considering the age of our site. Then this last week, we dropped off the radar. Still on GOOG but not where we used to be.

    Now I think it is because we just stopped working on the blog for a month.

    Thanks for helping me clear out my problem…

  • Duane Brown

    This is great to know. I’ve launched a new site ( and been doing a bit of SEO as I go. It’s my pet project to prove I can do it,.. since I’ve been so focused on PPC the last 2+ years.

    My goal is to start to get 2 – 4 new links a month and go from there.

  • Kevin Sandridge

    A great testament to building quality vs. spammy backlinks! Thanks for this information. Always useful SEO data here! πŸ™‚

  • Nina Anthony

    Jim Boykin posted a blog article some time back entitled “Why I won’t SEO your New Website” that I have always followed as a rule of thumb:
    “Older sites have the advantage of gaining links within a community over the course of years. New sites, unless they are spectacular and “of news” will not be able to even start to look into “fitting into the community” for a year or more (part sandbox – part Mike’s Filthy Linking Rich ideas). Google tends to like old established sites and trusts them more often over new sites.

    The key is (gaining) links over time.

    The older the site the more “natural” the more probable that it has experienced some type of “natural link growth” and that it’s potential is far more than any sites started after the site in question.”

  • Betamale

    So to that comment above by Nina,

    are you saying that link age is more important than link freshness? I always see both being discussed on SEO blogs but is there a definitive answer?

  • Michael Martinez

    Nice recap of what is (and isn’t) known on this topic.

  • James Mann

    Something that has always puzzled me about SEO, is what defines the amount of keywords you can use on any one page? how much is considered spamming? and how does Google know when someone is placing text, the same colour as the background?

  • Jim

    In my own experience, I have noticed that gaining backlinks from PR4-8 and using anchor text, even on unrelated sites, will dramatically boost your ranking. They have been maintaining for awhile now, but again, this is for local search terms/less competitive search terms.

  • Dakshin

    Yes, I believe in the age of the link, it is similar that google considers the domain age and expire date.

  • Timewarp

    Good post, yahoo also seems to really like aged back links. I would say they are more important then an aged domain that doesn’t have backlinks.

  • Shane

    I agree, the age factor cannot be ignored–great insight! That is one of the reasons I believe social media cannot replace SEO. With link age, Google has a way of truly gauging a website’s popularity over a longer period of time (unlike a news flash, which might be worthy for a day or so). With social media it’s impossible to do that.

  • Adam

    while age is a means to help spam, it really isn’t the greatest indicator of what page should rank better. Hopefully, in the near future google will search engines will be able to develop more effective ways of ranking sites.

    The age factor of domains and links seems to limit the ability of creative and useful new pages to shine through in the search engines and also gives alot of control to old money type websites.

  • Klaus Hanemann

    Short and to the basics – liked that πŸ™‚