In SEO, we often talk about netlinking, backlinks, and the interest they have as part of a natural referencing strategy. On the other hand, we often forget to mention that links are not eternal and that it is advisable to get new ones regularly if we want to maintain good SEO positions over time, for several reasons. In a recent study published by Ahrefs, SEO software that historically specializes in netlink analysis, it considered the lifespan of links and the main reasons why they are disappearing. Here are the results of the study and the main lessons to be learned.
Figures to remember about Ahrefs’ study on “link rot”, a study dedicated to netlinking
To obtain relevant figures, Ahrefs has analyzed external links pointing to more than 2 million different domains (2,062,173) since 2013.
In almost 10 years, 74.5% of the analyzed feedbacks were lost (66.5% lost + 6.45% with indexing errors)! The average lifespan of a relationship is therefore less than 10 years in the vast majority of cases.
So, almost 3/4 of the links obtained from more than 2 million analyzed domains since 2013 no longer have any SEO interest for various reasons.
What are the main reasons for losing links over time?
The main reasons why relationships are considered lost in the Ahrefs study are:
- Non-existent or impossible to index the page by Ahrefs : represent 47.7% of lost links (this is the case when domains are deleted for example);
- Link removed by site owners: 34.2% of lost links;
- Error crawling : 6.45% (errors that Ahrefs encountered while indexing the page)
- Reference page redirected to 301 : 5.99% (during migrations or redesigns, historical links are not always preserved);
- Reference pages have been deleted or correspond to 404 : 4.11% (pages that historically contain backlinks but are not redirected);
- Canonical change page : 0.82% of lost links;
- Noindex reference page (which she did not have before): 0.73%;
What lessons can be learned from this study on the lifespan of relationships and the reasons for their disappearance?
This study reminds us how important:
- Keep track of your links regularly to track the evolution of its reference domains and detect possible problems with its links that can be corrected by simply contacting the webmaster hosting the link (page redesign no longer integrates link, 301 redirects not configured, pages respond to 404 while available under new URL, ().
- Continue to collect connections on a regular basis over time : either through netlinking platforms, directly from sites, through guest articles, through PBN strategies, etc.