Backlink Atrophy – FatRank

Are your Backlinks declining in value?

Does Google really have engrained into their algorithm a system to degenerate, decline or carry out backlink deterioration?

Backlink Atrophy is where Google gradually decline a backlinks effectiveness or vigour due to underuse or neglect. If the existing backlink has no engagement or tier two links pointing to it, the link juice value declines in value and is called link atrophy.

It’s not enough to promote a website then sit back and enjoy the traffic. It needs constant progressive optimisation.

Your links and rankings are being subverted by link rot.

In this guide, you will learn how to counter backlink atrophy and maintain a powerful link profile.

How to Stop Backlink Atrophy?

The best ways to stop backlink atrophy are:

It is hard to fix link rot on other peoples websites because you have no control of the silo structure, freshness or quality of their content.

But the following methods set out above keep the backlinks fresh and prevent any backlink degeneration and can be used on sites, not in your control.

Types of Backlinks

Here are the types of backlinks where we try to stop backlink atrophy:


Citations are generally nofollowed naked URL backlinks so do not pass any link juice to your money site.

Citations are a great way to build your referring domain count, build link velocity, diversify anchor text and work amazing for local SEO purposes with the NAP listing being used consistently.

By nature, citations are difficult to index as generally low-value pages with minimal unique content on the web pages. So, for this reason, we strongly recommend doing the following to your citations as you have them built:

  • ✅ – Send traffic from Viper Tools to all the citations built to give the link a primary boost
  • ✅ – Load all the citations into an indexing tool like Omega Indexer to get them crawled and indexed by Google
  • ❌ – I would not bother building tier two backlinks to your citations as they are nofollow backlinks so tier 2s are not needed
  • ❌ – I would not bother sending social shares to the citations as traffic and indexers should be enough to index the URLs

Guest Posts

Guest Posts are new articles created on another domain linking back to yourself.

As you are creating this new blog post you can make guest posts very relevant and carry out an aggressive reverse sink or swim technique for super relevance.

The best backlink you can have is from a link ranking well for the keywords you want your money page to rank for.

We always recommend on guest posts to fully surfer SEO optimise the content and run it through marketmuse content optimisation to give the guest post the best chances to rank highly in the search engines and generate natural traffic.

Guest Posts are generally a follow backlink with keyword-rich anchor text so pass lots of relevant link juice to your money site.

We strongly recommend doing the following to your guest posts as you have them built:

  • ✅ – Send traffic from Viper Tools to all the Guest Posts built to give the link a primary boost
  • ✅ – Build tier two backlinks to your Guest Posts as they are your best type of links to power up
  • ✅ – Send social shares to the Guest Posts as you want as much traffic and engagement to these relevant guest posts as possible

Niche Edits

Niche edits are inserting a hyperlink into an existing article on another domain linking back to yourself.

Being an existing article it is harder to line up the relevance aggressively but you still want to try and get some sort of industry relevance where possible.

Niche Edits are generally a dofollow backlink with keyword-rich anchor text so pass lots of authority to your money site.

We strongly recommend doing the following to your niche edits as you have them built:

  • ✅ – Send traffic from Viper Tools to all the Niche Edits built to give the link a primary boost
  • ✅ – Build come tier two backlinks to your Niche Edits but generally they should have some initial power
  • ✅ – Send social shares to the Niche Edits as you want as much traffic and engagement to these relevant niche edits as possible

What is Link Rot?

Link rot includes the following two elements.

Disappearing Content Containing Your Links

Disappearing content, also known as ephemeral content, refers to content that vanishes after a set amount of time.

Some websites purge their content and archive the page which causes the content to disappear.

This causes the link to be lost and can negatively affect your SEO so it is good practice to always try to receive permanent backlinks.

When the content disappears the URL will either 301 redirect or create a 404 error.

Link Reclamation

Link reclamation is the process of “reclaiming” link power that has been lost to your link profile.

A great way to do link reclamation is to check any 404 response codes to your site and 301 redirect to the most relevant page.

If some pages are deleted and you paid for the backlink then message the blog owner to reclaim this page and get back live so the link returns.

Reduction of Link Power

Every link undergoes a reduction of link power the older a backlink ages.

The main reason the reduction of link power happens is that usually, the page linking to your site starts to get buried in a domains archive many clicks away from the homepage.

New pages push older pages away from the home page, reducing link power.

This is where you can look to build more quality backlinks or power up the existing ones to try and prevent the reduction of link power.

Why Does Google Use Backlink Atrophy?

Google uses backlink atrophy because what once could have been a great backlink now could be deemed bad quality.

With the internet growing daily Google needs to integrate a freshness score for content and backlinks.

Here is some example of why Google uses backlink atrophy:

  • Your existing link might now form part of a link farm
  • Google has detected your link as being a manipulated PBN link
  • No traffic or engagement to the linked page means no one else likes it (so why should Google)
  • Content could be out of date and not relevant anymore

When Does Backlink Atrophy Start?

In the Google patents, there is no exact times or dates for when the backlink atrophy kicks in.

Some links right from the start never pass any power or link juice because do not have the relevance, trust or engagement to deserve any rewards.

The predicted time when backlink atrophy in the SEO communities is six months after a page starts to get no new fresh links, content, traffic or social signals then it starts to deteriorate in value.

Who is Affected by Link Rot?

Every website is affected by link rot as the internet updates and refreshes.

Every domains backlink profile is under the process of decay with old links being removed or losing value in the current SERP.

The following websites are affected by Link Rot on a daily basis:

  • Lead Generation Websites
  • Rank and Rent Domains
  • Affiliate Websites
  • eCommerce Websites

Popular Questions

How do I find lost backlinks?

The Wayback Machine shows an archive of the linking page to show where the backlink was placed.

The page needs to of been archived and saved in for you to find lost backlinks in existing blogs.

How do you identify spam backlinks?

The best tools to identify spam backlinks are ahrefs, link research tools, majestic SEO and semrush.

Here are some ideas on what to look for when using the tools to check for spam backlinks:

  • Weird anchor text wording
  • Suspicious looking websites
  • Non-relevant links to your niche
  • Low-quality content on the page

Why are my backlinks not showing up?

Your backlinks are not showing up because the pages containing your links may not have been discovered/indexed.

If Google Bot has not discovered or indexed the pages containing your backlinks it could be blocked from the robots.txt or be an orphan page so no way of Google Bot accessing the URL.

The webpages containing your backlink could be using some form of redirect that is not search engine friendly (crawlers are unable to follow it).

Should I Disavow Links?

Disavowing spammy links should be carried out regularly when you carry out a link audit.

After you have highlighted the spam links pointing to your site that could be hurting your rankings then submit them to your disavow file in Google Search Console.

The link disavow is a request for Google to ignore those links to your domain.

If the link disavow is successful, it won’t be counted for or against you when determining ranking in the search results.


In August 2022 SEO is all about quality over quantity and our team spend as much effort now on tier two backlinks to power up our existing link profile as we do on purchasing new.

You still need to grow your link velocity of new backlinks pointing to your website.

If you worry about the atrophy of some old bad links you could start to suffer from procrastination.

Set yourself goals and work hard to achieve them. Ours are:

  • Build new fresh links to build link velocity
  • Power up old backlinks with tier 2 backlinks
  • Send CTR Manipulation traffic through your backlinks
  • Send Social Shares to all old backlinks in your link profile

Rinse and repeat these 4 steps and you will maintain a strong backlink profile to help your affiliate sites or rank and rent websites to maintain high rankings.

Achieving position one rankings is just the beginning and nobody wins a rankings race.

In SEO, you’re either moving forward or falling behind. There is no standing still

The process of maintaining those rankings is key and there’s no set and forget.

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