You may have gotten some good links in the past, but don’t count on them helping you forever. Old links go stale in the eyes of Google.
Do you still get links to old content? Tell us why you think that is.
Google’s Matt Cutts responded to a user-submitted question asking if Google removes PageRank coming from links on pages that no longer exist (for example, GeoCities pages that have been shut down). The answer to this question is unsurprisingly yes, but Cutts makes a statement within his response that may not be so obvious to everybody.
"In order to prevent things from becoming stale, we tend to use the current link graph, rather than a link graph of all of time," he says. (Emphasis added)
Now, this isn’t exactly news, and to the seasoned search professional, probably not much of a revelation. However, to the average business owner looking to improve search engine performance (and not necessarily adapting to the ever-changing ways of SEO), it could be something that really hasn’t resonated. Businesses have always been told about the power of links, but even if you got a lot of significant links a year or two ago, that doesn’t mean your content will continue to perform well based on that. WebProNews has discussed the value of "link velocity" and Google’s need for freshness in the past:
Link velocity refers to the speed at which new links to a webpage are formed, and by this term we may gain some new and vital insight. Historically, great bursts of new links to a specific page has been considered a red flag, the quickest way to identify a spammer trying to manipulate the results by creating the appearance of user trust. This led to Google’s famous assaults on link farms and paid link directories.
But the Web has changed, become more of a live Web than a static document Web. We have the advent of social bookmarking, embedded videos, links, buttons, and badges, social networks, real-time networks like Twitter and Friendfeed. Certainly the age of a website is still an indication of success and trustworthiness, but in an environment of live, real time updating, the age of a link as well as the slowing velocity of incoming links may be indicators of stale content in a world that values freshness.
Do you think link freshness should play a role in search engine rankings? Let us know.
So how do you keep getting "fresh" links?
If you want fresh links, there are a number of things you can do. For one, keep putting out content. Write content that has staying power. You can link to your old content when appropriate. Always promote the sharing of your content. Include buttons to make it easy for people to share your content on their social network of choice. You may want to make sure your old content is presented in the same template as your new content so it has the same sharing features. People still may find their way to that old content, and they may want to share it if encouraged.
Go back over old content, and look for stuff that is still relevant. You can update stories with new posts adding a fresher take, linking to the original. Encourage readers to follow the link and read the original article, which they may then link to themselves.
Leave commenting on for ongoing discussion. This can keep an old post relevant. Just because you wrote an article a year ago, does not mean that people will still not add to it, and sometimes people will link to articles based on comments that are left.
Share old posts through social networks if they are still about relevant topics. You don’t want to just start flooding your Twitter account with tweets to all of your old content, but if you have an older article that is relevant to a current discussion, you may share it, as your take on the subject. A follower who has not seen it before, or perhaps has forgotten about it, may find it worth linking to themselves. Can you think of other ways to get more link value out of old content?
Do you get fresh links for old content? Why do you think that is? Share your thoughts.