If You Have a Website, Then You Need This Critical Information
Links are a critical part of any SEO endeavor, and they do a lot to not only help you capture more organic traffic but also to help keep your audience engaged on your website. As most people already know, the number and quality of the backlinks you have from other websites is one of the many metrics that Google uses to determine where your website ranks in the SERPs. And though Google doesn’t reveal how heavily weighted their metrics are, you can bet that your backlink profile plays a significant role in your SEO performance.
But that’s only half of the reason why links are so crucial to your performance. You must also consider onsite links. You need to make sure that you make every effort to include onsite links for two reasons. First of all, they can help Google find content on your site. Though you should already have an XML sitemap to help the Google bots crawl your website in order to feed your content through their advanced algorithm, you should also have on-site links for the same purpose.
That is to say that onsite links do actually help the Google bots crawl through your web pages. But also consider that you need plenty of onsite links to help keep your readers engaged. When you add onsite links to your pages, you are making your content a lot more accessible to your audience. Website visitors most often take the path of least resistance, and if your content is buried in your blog and a user needs to dig for hours to find the content they are looking for, they will likely just try to fulfill their needs on another site. Onsite links will help users find related content, and in doing so you will be able to keep your bounce rate under control.
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Why Broken Links Suck
On the other hand, broken links can be detrimental to the performance of your website. But what is a broken link? As Tim Soulo pointed out in the video, a broken link as a link that points to a page that no longer exists. While he made the point that broken links make Google value your page less, I think he made a great point about user experience. Broken links are going to aggravate your visitors which will harm your bounce rate.
Think about it, how many times have you visited a site looking for information only to find that the link you clicked on generated a 404 page not found error? It’s incredibly annoying, and you probably went to another site to look for your information.
The Perils of Broken Backlinks
Believe it or not, broken backlinks are equally worrisome. A broken backlink is a link from an external source that points to a page on your website that no longer exists. Not only does a broken backlink fail to add SEO value to your site, but it also prevents a would-be visitor to your site from digesting your content.
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But how do you identify broken backlinks? Well, because Tim Soulo is with ahrefs, it is only natural that he would show you how to use their site explorer. But there are many other site explorer tools out there, and an SEO professional is going to know how to use them to maximize SEO value. If you don’t already know how to use their tool, Tim’s demo does a pretty good job of showing you step-by-step how to run through the process.
I also personally love the Screaming Frog tool - it's a great way to identify broken internal and external links so you can fix them. Use it to download a spreadsheet of links on your site (not to mention all your H1 tags, title tags, meta tags and all kinds of other goodies).
What To Do With Broken Links You've Identified
But I think Tim gives some really good advice on how to fix broken backlinks to salvage the SEO value you get from them. The first thing you can do, which is probably the easiest method, is to simply redirect that URL to another page on your site. Tim mentioned using the “robots.txt” file to redirect, but there are also some plugins that will help you achieve the same thing if you don’t know how to edit that file.
And of course, the second thing you can do is to actually recreate the page that the backlink was pointing to. But you may not want to do this for a couple reasons: the content was no longer valid, or it was just stale. If the original content was outdated or stale, you have the opportunity to refresh the content.
Website Maintenance and Your Time Investment
I would also mention that constantly monitoring your backlink profile takes up a lot of time. You need to constantly maintain and monitor your backlink profile, or you could be losing a lot of organic traffic. As Tim pointed out in the video, going through your website and correcting all of the broken backlink errors certainly isn’t one of the sexiest tasks. And because it can take so long to completely rebuild a page or setup a redirect if you don’t know how, you are much better off outsourcing the work to a qualified professional. Instead of spending hours combing through your website looking for broken links, let us help.
Afterall, you need to spend time working on your business, not in it.