Google’s John Mueller recently addressed whether the value of inbound links goes up or down with age.
This topic was brought up in a Google Webmaster Central hangout held on May 1 where a site owner simply asked:
Does link value deprecate with age?
In theory, that would mean the longer a link has existed on the web the less valuable it would be over time.
That’s not the case – at least not always.
However, it’s also not accurate to say that a new link is inherently less valuable than an old one.
It all comes down to how relevant the content is where the link appears.
Link Value Evolves Over Time
Google doesn’t exactly keep track of how old a link is and assign a value to it based on age.
Link value can and does change, but it has more to do with the way sites evolve over time.
For example, a link built today could have significant value if it’s featured in a highly relevant news article.
But the value of that same link will eventually go down as the news article becomes less relevant.
So that’s an example of how link value can deprecate over time.
Link Value Can Deprecate, But Not Always
On the other hand, if a link appears on an evergreen article that retains its relevancy over time, then that link will continue to hold value.
By that logic, it would make sense that a low value link could increase in value over time depending on how the content evolves.
Let’s say a link was placed within a piece of content that doesn’t gain any traction when it’s first published.
That link would have little value to begin with, but the value could rise if the content evolves to become more important to users.
So there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to determining the value of links based on how old or new they are.
Hear the full question and answer in the video below:
“I don’t know, maybe it should be the opposite, right? Like the older the link is maybe the stronger it should be.
Purely from an SEO point of view – on the one hand it feels like you’re probably focusing too much on links. So that’s kind of the one thing.
On the other hand, it’s not so much that we keep track of the age of the links, but rather that sites evolve over time.
So, for example, if you get a link from a newspaper website, and that’s in an article that’s currently linked on the front page because it’s a really important article, then obviously that’s going to be a really important link for us.
Because we notice that link is there, it’s linked fairly closely to the home page, it’s something that’s really relevant at the moment.
However, that news website is going to evolve, and overtime that article that might have been on the front page is suddenly on page two.
Or it’s in an archive somewhere, or it’s in a section for articles from the year 2020 which might be 50 years ago at some point. So it’s not as relevant anymore.
So it’s not so much that the link itself is aging, but rather that the website where that link was has evolved. And over time that place where the link was is no longer as relevant as it used to be.
So that’s something that, especially when it comes to news websites where things are changing fairly quickly, it’s something that’s definitely always involved.”
Related: Google Says Paid Links Don’t Work