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Land of the Lost Backlinks: 5 Reasons a Backlink Goes Bad

Lost backlinks?

Join the club.

Link building is a key part of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, and the job is never done.

Once you get a link, you need to keep an eye on it. Just because a link was authority, high quality and complementary to your landing page or site at one point in time doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way. Don’t let lost backlinks slip by undetected.

Why Backlinks Are Lost

There are many reasons backlink may “go bad”, becoming “lost backlinks” and not catching them in time can be detrimental to your rankings—whether they’re embedded on your site or pointing to your site from somewhere else.


When you first start link building, you start to depend on quality experts like Moz for tips and advice.

However, over time you’ll be able to spot quality links on your own instantly. You get an “eye” for these things. But they don’t always tell you about the ever-looming threat of lost backlinks.

That’s when you know you’re a true SEO guru in the making. Part of this is knowing when good links turn sour. So, keep an eye out for these red flags that a link has gone rogue.

Then, you can begin the process of removing, replacing or regaining your lost backlinks.

Land of the Lost Backlinks: 5 Reasons a Backlink Goes Bad

1. The backlink’s site is under new ownership

Domains and URLs expire, and some of them are hot commodities.

Spammers might be waiting anxiously for a URL to expire to they can snatch it up and take advantage of previously built links.

In fact, sites like Mikes Industries even provide tips on how to scoop up an expiring domain first, so this is a hot business. Make sure your links are still under quality ownership.

2. The content has gone down the tubes

Creating quality content is a constant process, and it’s possible the quality is just no longer there.

Maybe the site’s owner lost their best writer, they can no longer afford quality writers or it’s just not their priority any more.

Regardless of why the content is failing, you don’t want to be associated with it. Review Search Engine Land’s reasons why quality content is key if you’re on the fence.

3. The backlink is no longer there

For whatever reason, perhaps the owner of the page you’re linking to decided to delete the content.

This means you’re linking to an error page, a blank page or maybe a totally unrelated page. Even though you didn’t remove the content, your readers are still going to hold you accountable.

Why are you sending them to another site, and to a URL that no longer exists? You look unprofessional at best and spam-worthy at worst.

Alternatively, the backlinks pointing to your site might suddenly break or vanish.

You can get automatic e-mail alerts when a backlink goes bad with Monitor Backlinks. Likewise, you’ll get email alerts when the backlinks pointing to your website go bad.



4. The linked site decided to up their ads

Maybe the original link is still there, but now it’s drowning in pop-up ads, flashing banner ads and other signs of a spammy site.

SEO algorithms check for ads per page, and too many smell like spam to them.

Plus, you don’t want your readers assaulted when they click on a link and have to dig through ad after ad just to read the content.

Maybe the owner of the site wanted to try and make a little extra revenue, but you (and your readers) are the ones paying for it.

5. It’s outdated

There are some instances where the “right” link is there, but it covers a subject or industry that’s evolving so quickly that it’s no longer relevant.

If you’re linking to a site that’s giving the best SEO tips for 2012, how is that going to seem to your readers? In the world of SEO, you might as well be talking about the 1970s.

Choose evergreen links if you don’t plan on monitoring your links on a regular basis.
When it comes to choosing quality links, sometimes you change, sometimes the owner of the links pages change, or sometimes it’s just no longer a good match.

Remember that when you offer a link, that’s a means of cementing your authority and expertise.

Make a wrong move, and you’ll have your audience questioning you.

Anna Johansson: Anna JohanssonAnna is a freelance writer and researcher from the Olympia, WA area who loves to obsess about weird topics and then write about them. When she isn’t writing, she is outside on her bike and contemplating her eventual trip to graduate school. Find her on Twitter.


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Start your 30 days free trial with Monitor Backlinks:

  • Discover your backlinks
  • Discover your competitors backlinks
  • Keyword rankings
  • E-mail alerts when you lose or gain new links

Use our free Backlink Checker to instantly get a list of backlinks of a website.