Link rot will turn even a carefully thought-out linking strategy info an unsuccessful nightmare. Here’s how you can identify link rot, and how to combat it.
Link rot occurs when links to your website, both internal and external, point to defunct pages. While one or two broken links on a site isn’t a huge problem, over time, the number of broken links naturally increases, and this can be a very disastrous red flag.
If you’re worried link rot has effected your websites SEO rankings, there are a few things you should know, and some immediate actions you can take to fight this issue.
WHAT IS LINK ROT?
A smart link building strategy is one of the most crucial factors to SEO success, and is something we practice daily at Bryant Digital. The more legitimate links from reputable niche specific sites you have pointing to your own site, the more power you’ll wield when it comes to keyword rankings and organic traffic. It’s simple really, Google looks at each relevant link pointing at your website as a vote in your raking favor.
Unfortunately, those links can go bad – or “rot”. Link Rot can occur either through a change in URL, a domain being taken down, content being moved in a database, or any number of other scenarios that would cause a link to no longer work properly. Not only is the frustrating for users, Google can drop your ranking because of it, especially if you have many of them on or point to your site.
For example, I’ve seen websites that link to news articles or social posts that no longer exist, and I’ve seen sites that included internal links that were spelled incorrectly (and therefore lead to a 404).
While this can be frustrating and disappointing for your users as they try to navigate around your site, it can also be the spoiled apple in the fruit bowl of your otherwise-powerful SEO strategy. This loss of a link isn’t the only way link rot can hurt your google rankings. Poor users experience due to link rot will simply cause users to leave your website, and you better believe bounce rate is another crucial factor in Google’s ranking algorithm.
WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?
There are a huge number of reasons why links go bad. As time passes, you can almost guarantee that some of the links you’ve created will break as the websites they lead to close down, move, or update. The link could have been configured incorrectly in the first place, or perhaps finding the time to fix broken links hasn’t been a part of your SEO strategy.
One of the most common reasons I see is that many people just don’t know to look for link rot – or what to do when they find it.
HOW TO DETECT LINK ROT
Unless you feel like starting on page one and spending hours clicking every single link on your website, I’d definitely advise using a link rot detection tool. Without the proper tools, there is also no way to scan the inbound links pointing to your website from other websites.
Using a tool will quickly identify rotten links on your site, and off your website so you can go about deciphering the root causes behind them. Whether it’s a misspelled URL, a domain that no longer exists, or something else entirely, you can sift through to fix the ones you can and update the rest.
Below you can find the tools we routinely use for our SEO clients at Bryant Digital:
HOW TO AVOID LINK ROT IN THE FIRST PLACE
Unfortunately, there’s no surefire way to avoid link rot—some links will go bad no matter what you do. However, there are precautionary steps you can take to keep link rot to a minimum.
Be selective with your external linking. Avoid using URLs that may be deleted in future, such as social media pages or comment threads. If part of your SEO strategy is building links to and from blogs, aim for ones that have been around for a while and are already very well established. An estimated 95% of new blogs are doomed to failure.
You should always to link to the most authoritative article possible. That is to say, linking to an original scientific study is way more reliable than linking to a news website covering the findings. Of course, this needs to be balanced with consideration about the domain authority of a website. However, a permanent link to a domain with slightly lower authority is preferable to a link to a strong website that is removed in weeks or months. Long-term value should be a key component to your link building strategy.
Whenever you run a SEO campaign, make sure there is an exit strategy in place so that you can reduce link rot.
I hope that this information will help you in your link building quest, and propel your long-term SEO goals. Don’t let the prospect of link rot discourage you from building a linking strategy, however finding ways to increase third-party links to your site is still one of the best strategies for SEO. With a little regular pruning, link building can be the edge you need to stay fresher than your competition.