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SEO Case Study: How Long Do Guest Post Links Last?

Let’s face it, link building is a pain.

It takes time, money, and energy from you, so frankly, you want to make sure that your investment is worthwhile, is relevant to your site, and that the backlink is there to stay.

In this case study, we’ll be doing a deep dive into link loss as well as analyzing 100 different guest posts we secured as part of our link building services to see how many of those links are still active. The backlinks have been grabbed from our July 2019 and 2020 batch so as to be completely random. 50 of the backlinks are one year old and the other 50 are two years old.

The analysis was simple. We took these 100 guest posts and bucketed them into 3 categories:

  1. Active
  2. Article Broken (404)
  3. Link Broken or Inactive

The goal was to determine how many of the articles / links are still active after one and two years.

But before we get into the results, let’s start with the basics.

What is link loss and what does it happen?

Link Loss is defined as the links which were not found when recrawled from your existing backlink profile. When a crawler went back to that page, the link was no longer there. (Moz)

Over time, links are lost for a variety of reasons, most if not all resulting from some sort of user action. The main causes of losing these links include:

  • Site wide changes
  • UI/UX Changes
  • 404 pages
  • Removing articles and content

Is link loss bad for your site and how common is it?

Basically yes, it’s bad. 

Links are what give your site authority, so when they are lost, your site loses authority. Of course, this is assuming that the links are good quality to begin with and this should not be confused with disavowing low quality links.

Within every website, you’re going to experience some sort of link loss at some point in time. Whether it’s an article you linked to getting taken down, a web page breaking, etc. It happens. 

The older your site is, chances are the more links it has, and the longer those links have been around, which makes them even more likely to be lost. 

How can I track my link loss?

Tools such as Ahrefs and BackLink Patrol each show link loss.

Ahrefs in particular, which is the tool we use at Shortlist, has a dedicated feature / section on lost links. It will show you the links that you have lost, their quality, and some insights into why they might be lost. For example if the link was removed or the page is now a 404.

This shows that in the last 60 days, 55 links have been lost, so about a link a day. Of course that figure is going to vary with how many links you have. The more links you have, the more links you’ll probably lose. 

But again, not all of these website links are good quality, and we’re also gaining links, so it’s not necessarily cause for alarm

Can I prevent link loss or recover lost links?

Prevent no. Recover yes. 

There’s a variety of ways to recover lost links, but because all of the links are coming from other websites, every single one of the tactics involves reaching out to the webmaster and requesting the link to be reinstated.

At a high level, your steps might resemble the following: 

  1. Use a tool to keep track of your lost links, (AHREFS has a great one, so does BackLink Patrol) and export it out for future use. If you aren’t keeping track of the links that are lost, then, you won’t know who to reach out to, to get them back!
  2. Once you have your link list, you want to create an outreach campaign using some sort of mass outreach platform, like GMASS, and write a template for outreach that specifically addresses the page and the lost link that you would like recovered.
  3. Naturally, you’ll need to get contact information from the webmaster. A tool like snov.io can help. 
  4. Send out the emails, and try to recover some of the links! Like most link building campaigns, the success rate will be quite low. 

What is the link loss from Shortlist’s guest posting service?

So let’s get into the results of our 100 link analysis. 

While we can’t share the links individually, due to the fact that we want to respect the privacy of our clients, we can share a summary of the numbers.

In total, our findings resulted in:

  • 93% of links active, and linking properly to its targeted article
  • 3% of links active, but linking to the wrong domain
  • 4% of links broken or damaged in total

As for the 7% of links that were missing, all of them were from our 2 year old batch. 

So what does this tell us?

Mostly that links secured through our guest posting service are pretty stable. None of the links from one year ago were removed, and the majority of the ones from two years ago are still there. 

Of course this doesn’t mean that overtime more links won’t be lost – they will be. But considering how common link loss is, it’s good to know that the service you’re provided has good longevity.

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