Inbound link attrition is a term that refers to the phenomenon where links from other websites that point to your website are disappearing. They disappear for many different reasons.
Websites change hands. Websites get redesigned. Page content gets updated. Internal website structures get modified. Pages become de-indexed or just moved to the supplemental index. Websites become abandoned. There are many different reasons a link could disappear. Some types of links are more prone to attrition than others.
Inbound Link Attrition Is A Very Common Occurrence Among Spammers
Think about it.
Links from spammy sources are more likely to disappear in the near future. Right?
Generally, when spammers find a website that is vulnerable to spamming, they exploit that site to the maximum. It doesn’t take long before the site becomes completely overrun with spam.
If the site is actually a website that the owner’s care about, then the owners will take action to clean that spam up. The end result is that the spam links get taken down or nofollowed. If they don’t, then it isn’t long before that website gets identified as a bad neighborhood website in the eyes of the search engines. When that happens, the links stop counting in a positive way and maybe even begin counting in a negative way in regards to SEO.
That is part of the reason why spamming your site directly has short term positive benefits. You can create a bump in rankings and a bump in traffic over the short run. That works until your link sources are identified as spam and begin to get nullified.
Your Link Attrition Is Inversely Correlated With The Quality Of Your Links
I have not conducted the scientific analysis to prove this correlation. I am sure that in some instances it is true and others it is not entirely accurate. Common sense tells me that for the most part your link attrition is inversely correlated with the quality of your links though.
If you are getting links from legitimate non-spammy websites, then what incentive would those websites have to take your links down? They wouldn’t have any incentive to do so unless you change the content that they are linking to or unless you give them some other reason to do it.
You Can Experience Inbound Link Attrition When You Use Article Marketing
Unfortunately, I discovered that even when you are only publishing high quality articles to higher quality article directories, you can still experience inbound link attrition. During the first year this website was live, I saw a total of 8 articles get removed from the websites they were published on. I had one other website switch the links to nofollow at some point. So that was nine, hand written, original, 100% unique articles that were removed for one reason or another.
Those other sites never told me they were going to remove them. I never got accused of doing anything wrong. The articles just disappeared without any notice at all. So, yes it happens even when you are doing white hat marketing. It sucks, but it happens.
I chalked it up to doing business on the web. Luckily I saved original copies of those articles. That way I could check and see if there were any other copies of the articles on the web anywhere else. In the cases where those articles did not exist anywhere else on the web, I could republish them to a site where they would hopefully remain put.
One thing I should note – I did not have any blog articles removed at all, only articles that were published to article directories.
I think that the main reason it happened was because over the course of 2012, websites have been cleaning themselves up a lot. We are still in the wake of Google Panda and Penguin. So, maybe some of those sites didn’t realize they were removing good quality articles. Maybe the baby got thrown out with the bathwater. Or, maybe they really didn’t like the quality of my articles. We will never know.
The existence of this link attrition is one of the reasons why you will probably need to keep building links over time. If you don’t, then eventually you will see your high ranking pages start to slip out of their coveted top positions.