Broken Links & SEO
There is the ongoing debate as to whether bad, dead and broken links, pages and images influence site rankings with Google and with the other major search engines. The consensus is that broken links have a detrimental effect on a website. With search engines continually amending their algorithms, it will have a larger factor to play in future updates. The web is constructed of a series of links that direct visitors from one page/site to the next, it is a delicate thread and if it breaks it does not carry out the function it was intended to. Not only will broken links potentially cause Google to penalize a website they also deter visitors. It is acknowledged within the industry that Google does not like dead links, in its webmaster guidelines for SEO, it is definitive when it states that you should, “Check for broken (dead) links and correct HTML in your website”.
search engines spending unnecessary bandwidth crawling and indexing junk pages, particularly on a substantial site should be avoided. If a search engine spidering a website is continually met with broken links and or error messages it affects the flow of the crawling process and can prevent the crawler from going any further. Broken links can in many instances curtail the value of a website by the search engines, it can deem that the website is badly administered and managed. Additionally, it will result in your site and or pages not being indexed and appearing in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Google is a business and as with all businesses it has a professional image to adhere to and continue to maintain. Google wants to ensure that its users are being sent to websites that are of a certain quality and standard and if you fail to meet their criteria you will find that you will be penalized and your rankings will suffer. Google wants to ensure its users have a user friendly experience. If a website has a large number of broken links, pages and or images its usability is compromised, it can be thought that it is a poor quality website. This may not be of too much relevance if you have a substantial or e-commerce website but could be extremely damaging if you are operating a small website. It is thought that as little as two to three dead links can have an adverse effect.
An integral part of any SEO (search engine optimization) campaign should be concentrated on fixing any broken links. In particular full attention should be placed on mending internal links as the site owner has full control over these. External links are a little more difficult to administer and if pointing to a removed page should be redirected to another relevant page. Depending on which Web Server is being used this can be achieved by placing a 301 redirect in the .htaccess file on Apache, the web.config file on IIS or the main configuration file on NGINX. Another option is to contact the Webmaster of the site pointing to the broken link and request the link is updated.
Seopler software makes the time consuming and arduous process of broken link detection a breeze and one that will reap rewards in terms of improved rankings for keywords as well as an increase in visitors who stay to browse as opposed to moving on if they hit a broken link. It can be difficult enough to attract visitors to a website, having a visitor immediately deterred by landing on or clicking a broken link should be avoided at all costs. A visitor is generally discouraged from exploring a website any further if they encounter a broken link, this can affect conversion rates. A broken link can result in losing potential customers before being able to demonstrate the website has what the visitor is looking for. This will affect the amount of free (organic) traffic your site gets. Link validity is deemed to be an important factor in deciding a user experience, and this is the same for all the major search engines, Google, Yahoo and Bing. If a visitors does not stay on a website and quickly moves to another website, search engine algorithms determine this as a high bounce rate and as we know this is not favourable for site rankings, as it is considered to indicate a poor user experience.