Are broken links hurting your website?
Websites are living, breathing things, likely undergoing ongoing revision and improvement. This is potentially beneficial, but how you manage these shifts can greatly impact your site's success.
Broken links are a major source of frustration for users—and a major detriment to your website. A broken link occurs when someone clicks on a link that leads nowhere, or worse, to the wrong page. It’s like searching for something in your home and not finding it; it’s time-consuming and annoying.
In order to run a successful website or blog, it's important to monitor and take care of any broken links. Broken links not only frustrate visitors, but can also negatively impact the ranking of your website in search engines.
SERP algorithms are programmed to assess the user experience of visitors, including their level of satisfaction with a site. If your website is filled with broken links, users won’t be able to find the information they need, resulting in a poor experience for visitors.
What is a broken link?
Every website and blog has links. These are pieces of code that connect one page to another, allowing users to quickly find what they’re looking for while exploring a website.
However, when the URL connected with these links changes or the page itself is deleted, those links become broken. This means that your visitors can no longer access the page they wanted; instead, they’re met with an error message.
Some of your material, such as announcements of limited-time discounts or contest deadlines, may have a short shelf life. Previously-useful information, such as that pertaining to old products or services, may now be irrelevant to your company.
The first thing most people would do in this situation is to get rid of the offending sites and any internal links (links inside the same website that lead to other pages on the same website) that refer to them. A decrease in website traffic and maybe a drop in search engine ranks are both possible outcomes of this strategy.
It's likely that other individuals have already linked to the pages you took down from their site. The erased pages may have even been bookmarked for later use by certain users. Once you’ve deleted the pages you have removed these sources of possibilities.
Linking is the primary method by which search engines discover new sites and content on the Internet. You will be depriving them of the information they have come to rely on (once they have identified and indexed it) if you delete these pages.
Many visitors will abandon your site if they are unable to access previously-posted content or if they get errors while trying to access other pages that you have mistakenly removed from your server. Because of this, getting new pages indexed may be a time-consuming and frustrating process.
How does a broken link affect Google ranking?
Google, as the most widely used search engine, takes all of these user-experience signals into account when deciding how it ranks pages in its search results: If people don’t stay on your website because their links are broken, Google will inevitably lower your rankings.
Broken links signal to search engines that your website is outdated, which reflects poorly on the quality of your content. This may lead to a decrease in ranking and fewer visitors. This then leads to lower ad revenue and lower affiliate revenue.
Google also takes into account how long people stay on a page before clicking back to the SERP. A broken link causes them to lose time, which is why it’s essential that you maintain all of your links and take steps to repair any that are broken.
Read up on the Google Content update and what Google considers good content.
How to identify and fix broken links
To ensure that your website is properly indexed and receiving the best possible rankings, it’s important to identify and repair broken links.
The first step is to find out which of your links are broken. You can do this manually by combing through each page one-by-one or you can use a tool such as Screaming Frog to quickly crawl your website and identify any broken links.
Once you’ve identified the broken link, you can start taking steps to fix it. You could redirect the link to another relevant page on your website or update the URL in order to point it to the right destination.
If there is no suitable alternative, you should consider deleting the link so that users don’t encounter an error.
Fix broken links with a 301 redirect
You should always use a 301 redirect before deleting a page from your website. If you had a page called "december-sale.htm" and it was now January, you could use a 301 redirect to send visitors looking for that page straight to "january-sales.htm."
The page can be removed after that is done. You can still resolve the issue even if you have erased pages from your website without first configuring 301 redirects.
Checking your server's error logs will reveal all of the 404 errors brought on by requests for files that do not exist; from there, you may create 301 redirects for each one.
To avoid losing potential customers due to broken links, redirect them to the most relevant page on your site as soon as they arrive at a non-existent one.
Search engines will spend extra time indexing your site since they will be redirected to the next most relevant page when they attempt to access a page that no longer exists.
It's worth noting that certain hosts don't allow you to set up redirects like these and instead suggest you add a java script to the page. Since search engines don't run scripts, this won't help them and only a subset of visitors would see the effect.
Affiliate links: keep them up to date
You should pay special attention to affiliate links, as they’re often not properly maintained and can lead to broken links. Make sure that you keep all of your affiliate links up-to-date, as any outdated link will likely result in a loss of money for you or your company or blog.
Just think of the following example: you are linking to a pair of winter boots that are popular and in -demand on Amazon. If the boots are sold out, unavailable, or the link leads to the wrong product, you no longer earn a commission. In that case, you should either find a new pair of boots to link to or find another affiliate program.
People are likely to shop from your blog if they trust the correctness and reliability of your links. Broken links are a surefire way to make them lose faith in your website.
By taking proactive steps to identify and address broken links, you can ensure that your website is as user-friendly as possible and is attractive to both users and search engines alike. This will ultimately help you maintain a strong web presence for years to come.
In conclusion, broken links can be detrimental to your website’s ranking on Google as well as its overall credibility.
To ensure that all of your visitors have the best possible experience when interacting with your site, use 301 redirects whenever a page is deleted to ensure that they are directed to the most relevant page. Doing so will help you maintain a positive reputation with search engines and create loyal customers in the process.
If you're blogging, you have to check links every once in a while to make sure that they are still working and valid. Doing this regularly will help you save time, money, and help you earn passive income.