Running a website or blog is big business these days, and it isn’t easy. There are so many rules to follow on proper optimization, site structure, technique, etc. The list goes on and on. So, you’ve spent all this time and money designing just the right website and finding a place to park it. You’ve paid special attention to keywords, site structure, and responsive templates. You’ve purchased software to analyze the site metrics and tweak your marketing strategy. You’ve even gone the extra mile to ensure that your pages are mobile-friendly and there are plenty of backlinks. Your SEO strategy should be on point, right? Not if you don’t constantly audit your site for broken links, of all things.
What Is A Broken Link?
Well, you know that part of a good optimization strategy is having plenty of external links for your visitors to follow. They add credibility to your site and give it authority. These may be links to business authorities within the same industry or even research showing why your product benefits people. Unfortunately, sometimes people will click on these links and get an error message rather than the intended site. You don’t have any control over the site you are linking to, so the only thing you can do is audit the links and repair or remove them.
Why Links Break
Sometimes a broken link can be the result of something as simple as an error in the URL. Other times the site may have moved or gone permanently offline. Maybe you have linked to an image or a PDF that has been deleted. Or perhaps a linked website did an overhaul without including a redirect. There are any number of factors that may cause broken links. The key is to find them and repair or delete them. If your site is small, then this is a simple task. You can click on each link to ensure that it works properly. Larger sites may have to use software that is widely available on the internet.
Why Broken Links Are Bad For SEO
Web spiders repeatedly crawl the links between sites and all the content they display so that search engines can find websites. These spiders follow these links until they can no longer follow them. When they come to a dead link, they stop crawling the page displaying it, meaning the search engine won’t index the page.
Additionally, website usability, structure and organization are all a huge part of SEO. When the spiders come across broken links on a website, they record and reflect that website as being unusable. The search engines penalize sites that are recorded as unusable in the rankings. This is why broken links are so bad for SEO.
Broken links and error messages also reflect a poor user experience. Don’t be so focused on SEO that you forget about the end user. When visitors find broken links, they often leave the site. One broken link, even for just a few days, can increase bounce rates and reduce the average session time on your site. These are also very important user metrics for SEO purposes.
It is vital to the life and the rankings of your website that you audit for dead links frequently. There are online tools available to help you do this, and many of them are free. Even if there is a small fee associated with the service you choose, it is well worth it. A great SEO strategy can mean the difference between life and death for your business, and it never includes broken links.