At SOLID Web Service, we are always encouraging our clients to embrace some digital best practices. Regularly checking your website for broken hyperlinks, or “Link Rot” is an important way to ensure your website stays healthy, effective and rocking!
Today at SOLID is Link Checking Day!
One of our healthcare website clients, New Orleans Spine Surgeon K. Samer Shamieh, MD’s website – DISC of Louisiana, has 85 pages. Each page has at least a few links and some can contain 40 or 50. To ensure we maximize the user’s experience and the site’s search engine performance, we have to ensure it contains no broken links. However, when Emma, the SOLID Link Ninja checked the site, she found a broken link to an important spinal procedure. Left unchecked, a patient may not have found the information they needed to make an informed decision about surgery.
Why Fix Broken Links?
Checking each link of a website is a ponderous, time consuming task. We spend a lot of time checking and updating links that many website visitors may never see. However, regular link maintenance has real value.
Your website is Your Online Image
Broken links make you and your site look unkempt. When a link directs a reader to a 404 page, it looks like the site owner doesn’t care about the contents. Clients of Dr. Shamieh are often doing intensive homework about spinal surgery. If Dr. Shamieh’s website has broken links, potential patients may not choose to make an appointment with him. Our job is to continue to grow his practice, not hurt it!
Links Help Search Engines
A basic practice of search engine optimization (SEO) is making your site friendly to the search engine spiders. If the spiders can easily find their way around your site, they can quickly index it. An indexed page will get more page views. But if links are broken, the spider can’t crawl them.
Change Is Good!
SEO is improved when content is changed and updated. Adding and correcting links is considered updating the content. Search engines can tell when you make changes to a web page. When you do, they will crawl the page and update their listings. By regularly fixing links, you show the search engines that your site is well maintained. This gives the site some extra “SEO Juice” in search engine results.
Google Says So
Google’s Webmaster Guidelines recommends that you “Check for broken links. And that “following these guidelines will help Google find, index, and rank your site.” If Google says do it…..Just do it.
So What Breaks Links?
The term “Link Rot” refers to links that point to pages that are unavailable. Broken links clutter search engine results. As a result, the search engines demote sites suffering from link rot. One of the most common reasons for a broken link is that the web page to which it points no longer exists. This frequently results in a 404 error, which happens when the web server can’t find the page.
Other reasons for broken links include:
Websites can be redesigned, reorganized, and/or the website platform can be changed. Many news sites only keep articles available for free for a short period of time, then move them to a subscription section of the site. Some links are set to expire by the publisher.
Search results from social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn are prone to link rot because of frequent changes in user privacy settings, deletion of accounts, and deleted links and photos.
Which Link Checker to Use?
Like virus detection software, we recommend using different link check tools. Google’s Webmaster Tools are great. We also use Check My Links (open it in Chrome for best results!). This broken link checker detects the total number of links, which are good and which are broken links.
Go from Rotten to Rocking!
Once you’ve done everything to improve your website’s links, there are similar best practices for your online image and social media presence to ensure you not only are in-line with the best practices within your industry, but that you are taking reasonable steps to outpace your competition.
Have questions about the health of your website or your online presence? Contact SOLID today for a free evaluation. We’ll help you turn a rotten site into a SOLID website!