Do you know what one of the onsite errors is that will tank you in the SERPs quicker than anything but getting caught using black hat SEO tactics? Broken links. Broken links are not only of zero value, they are annoying. They also serve as an indication that you aren’t paying much attention to your site and that may lead people to believe you don’t pay much attention to other aspects of your business as well.
Let’s face it – having broken links is a terrible thing for your website’s reputation. Everyone knows how frustrating it can be to search for information on the internet and think you have found what you want – only to discover that the page you thought was going to give you everything you needed ended up being a 404 page with the error message. It’s happened to all of us and it is safe to say we all draw a negative impression of such sites.
You know how it feels when that golden link turns out to be a link to nowhere. Suddenly your hopes plummet as you get the message that ‘the page you were searching cannot be found’. Usually you give up on that site in a hurry and look somewhere else for your needed information. If you’re the webmaster of that site, you lost a potential conversion – and it is all over something that can be easily avoided.
The next time you tell yourself that you’ll check all your links later, or fix that one tomorrow instead of today, you could be losing conversions. Your website visitors aren’t going to wait for you to do it and just stop back later – they will go to a competitor. It’s not only human visitors who get frustrated with broken links in websites, too, but the search engine spiders hate broken links and will also give up on crawling and indexing your site if too many links are broken, causing you untold damage in lost traffic. Waiting to fix broken links is lose/lose all around.
Your website maintenance should take into consideration broken links as a major aspect of your checklist. Not many webmasters are aware of the loss that they are incurring on daily basis due to what they consider as few broken links. The problem is, analytics don’t really give us that information, but we know it happens. Furthermore, not only are you losing potential visitors, broken links can actually pull your website’s ranking down. This isn’t even a point of speculation – any SEO can verify this.
Once you launch your website, the first thing you should do is check every internal link on your website. Don’t start thinking “Oh,the links have been tested completely offline before launching the website, they are fine”. So many things can go wrong when uploading your site to the server; Folders can be uploaded in the wrong places, or you can change the name of files, etc. Broken links are almost a given. Even the best in the business will tell you that transfers almost always have at least a couple links that fail to work properly after making the jump.
If you have a massive site, manually testing your links will not be a practical thing to do. Your best option will be to use any of a number of online tools that are available or downloadable programs that will help you check your links. Both work equally well. You can these tools to find the broken links; but you will have to expend real time effort in order to fix them. The tools will save you time, but you still have to do the manual fixes yourself – and ASAP!