A broken link is simply a hyperlink that does not do what it is required to do, i.e., redirecting you to the intended page. It does not give you the information you are looking for and generally shows up as a 404 error page. This breakdown of links can happen for various reasons. It might be due to the changes you have made to your website.
Typo errors in the links, deletion of old or outdated pages from your site, moving or renaming content and pages to new URLs without redirecting your old URLs, site migration to a new domain, etc all result in broken backlinks. In this article, you will get to know the negative effects of broken backlinks and how you can fix them.
First, let’s start with what backlinks are and their importance.
Backlinks and their importance
Backlinks for a given website are links to pages on that website from other web resources such as a webpage, website or a web directory. They are also known as incoming links or inbound links.
The number of quality backlinks a website gets to its content indicates the authority and trustworthiness of that website in that domain. So most of the search engines use backlinks as a criterion to rank sites organically. Those with more quality backlinks have higher rankings in SERP. There are many link building services available for solely this purpose.
Why are broken links bad for you?
Whatever is the reason for the broken links they are quite annoying for both you and your users. It is not ideal to ignore them as they damage your website in various subtle ways and can have an overall negative impact on your website’s ranking.
Let’s check out how they do so.
Create a bad user experience
Users scour the internet for the information they are interested in. In that process, the user clicks many links and expects to find the relevant information they are looking for. If the user gets across these kinds of broken links, it creates a bad user experience.
You, yourself, might have experienced this first-hand. This effect is further elevated if the user is in a state of emergency and quickly needs the required information.
Negative brand image
Users are good at forming associations based on their previous experience. This is done to narrow down their options when faced with numerous choices. There is so much information on the internet.
To narrow down the number of information users look for websites that they trust. If they cross broken links on your website, they associate your website and brand with negative perceptions. With broken links, the users might also doubt your site’s credibility along with your brand.
Increased Bounce Rate
What do you do when you come across a broken link? You quickly look for other sources where you can find the relevant information you’re looking for. This is exactly what happens with your users if they come across broken links to your website or on your website.
They don’t linger around and go through other links on your website or go to pages. They simply bounce off to other sites where their needs can be met resulting in a higher bounce rate. This is bad for your SEO as discussed below.
Reduced Link equity
Backlinks are a great factor in boosting your organic search rankings. You might have worked hard for those backlinks but once they are broken your hard work doesn’t pay off.
Broken backlinks don’t get the same importance as the working links resulting in reduced link equity. They are not counted as backlinks and don’t help your website ranking at all. Instead, they impact the SEO of your website in a bad manner.
Failure of your SEO efforts
The above factors all come together and affect your site’s SEO quite seriously if the backlinks are left as they are. It is stated that having broken links doesn’t affect your SERP directly but it is shown to impact in other ways. Search engines use crawler bots to crawl your web pages and get an idea of your website.
It helps in ranking your website based on their standards. When these crawlers come across broken links, they waste time verifying and categorising them as broken backlinks. This takes up a lot of crawl budget and might affect the ranking of another well to do page.
Search engines generally calculate the time spent by users on a website and use this too as a criterion for site rankings. As broken backlinks result in a higher bounce rate, the search engines devalue your site thinking that the site is not providing the user with useful information. This ultimately leads to a negative influence on SEO and lowers your rankings.
What can you do?
Knowing what is going wrong is just one part of the equation. Now that you know what is wrong, let’s explore how you can fix the situation. If you have broken backlinks on or to your site, you can salvage them and get your link equity back. This can be achieved in the following ways.
Fixing the broken backlinks
The first thing that can be done is by checking for typos for URLs listed on your site and those of yours on other sites. You need to reach out to those sites and inform them of the broken backlinks. Offer them alternative links to replace with the old ones. Highlight to the site owner
how it is a bad experience to the users and appeal to them how it is beneficial to their end. Doing all this can restore the broken links to their intended use and this is the best thing that can be done.
Redirecting your broken links
But with different sites, you need to deal with different difficulties to deal with while appealing to them. You might not always be successful in your persuasion with the site owners and this is where redirecting comes into help. This might not get you the former link equity but redirected links are much better than the broken backlinks.
With redirecting, you help the users by taking them to relevant pages instead of 404 error pages. This increases the user experience and helps you with your credibility. It also eliminates the need of relying on the other site owners. See that you don’t redirect the link to your homepage link as again leads to a bad user experience.
When you are not able to do all these you can try to recreate and replace the content at the broken URL with something relevant. If there is nothing relevant, it is totally fine to leave 404 pages but don’t just leave them as soft 404 pages.
Backlinks are hard-earned link equity and it’s best not to lose them as broken links. And with time there is always the chance of new broken backlinks popping up. Periodically check for these and try to fix them. This helps maintain your user experience and site credibility. Click here to check out link building services.
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