Marketing & SEO

How Dead Links Disrupt Your Website’s SEO Strategy

MotoCMS Editorial 27 January, 2024

Turning a blind eye to dead links can restrict your website’s search engine rankings. Search engines use several link-related signals in their ranking algorithms. They’ll look at the number of inbound links your website has and the quality of those links, for instance. With a lot of high-quality inbound links, your website may earn rankings. Most links don’t last forever. Whether inbound, outbound, or internal, they can decay. These dead links are detrimental to search engine optimization (SEO). They can restrict your website’s SEO strategy, resulting in poorer organic performance.

What Are Dead Links?

Dead links are hyperlinks that take users to a 404 error page. They don’t function as intended. Links are designed to take users to a different page or content file when clicked. If a link takes users to a 404 error page rather than the intended page or content file, it’s a dead link. Dead links are caused by the following:

  • Moving pages to new addresses
  • Deleting pages
  • Changing domain names
  • Mistyping addresses when creating links
  • Using the wrong syntax when creating links

How Common Are Dead Links?

The internet is riddled with dead links. An Ahrefs study involving roughly 2 million websites found that nearly two-thirds of their links were dead. Only one out of three links tracked during the study was still functional. Some websites remove links upon discovering they no longer work as intended. Other websites, however, either aren’t aware of the dead links or simply don’t care about removing them. Regardless, dead links are common.

Less Link Authority

Your website will lose link authority from dead links. Link authority is the ranking power or value that flows through links. If a popular blog refers to your website, it will pass link authority to your site. Search engines like Google may then rank your website higher.

Dead links don’t pass authority. They return a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) data header with the 404 status code. Unlike the 200 status code and the 301 and 302 redirect status codes, the 404 status code doesn’t pass authority. Only functional links that take users to the intended page will benefit your website’s SEO strategy.

Less Referral Traffic

Dead links will result in less referral traffic. Referral traffic represents users who discover your website by following a link. Websites that refer to your site are referring websites; users who click and follow these links are referral traffic.

As more of your website’s links decay, referral traffic will decrease. Decaying is the transition of a functional link into a dead link. If you change the address of a linked page, for example, all links pointing to the old address will decay and die. Users may still be able to click them, but users won’t land on your website’s front-end pages; clicking a dead link will take them to a 404 error page.

Search engines don’t look at traffic when calculating rankings, but traffic still affects SEO. Traffic leads to word-of-mouth publicity. If your website generates a ton of traffic, more users will talk about it. They’ll share your website in social media posts, mention it in articles, and link to it from their own sites. All this publicity, particularly the links, can fuel your website’s rise in search results.

Negative User Experience

Dead links create a negative experience for users. Users expect links to work. When they see a phrase with the universal link format – underlined and with a blue font color – they assume that clicking it will take them to a relevant page. Dead links will take users to a 404 error page, so they’ll have to turn around or close their web browser.

Users who see a 404 error page after clicking a dead link may stop interacting with your website. They’ll associate these negative experiences with your website, which may compel them to visit a competitor’s site instead.

How to Protect Against Dead Links

how to protect against dead links

You can protect against dead links by ensuring they work before publishing them. When creating links to your website, copy the destination address and paste it into your web browser after typing it. If your website loads, the link is functional. If you see a 404 error page, the link is dead because it features the wrong address.

Another tip to protect against dead links is to analyze your website for them. Some web-based tools like Dr. Link Check can scan your website for dead links. Known as dead link checkers, these tools work by automatically testing links. If a link returns an HTTP header with the 404 status code, the dead link checker will record it as a broken link.

Moving a page to a new address will typically result in one or more dead links. The page will no longer be accessible via its old address. Therefore, all links pointing to the page’s old address will become dead links. You can resolve this problem by editing the links to feature the page’s new address or by setting up redirects.

A redirect is a snippet of code that forces web browsers to load a different page. You can use them to redirect users from the page’s old address to its new address. Some of the page’s links may feature its old address. However, as long as redirects are in place, those links will load the page at its new address.

Deleting a page can also cause dead links. If you’re going to delete a page, you’ll need to delete all of its links as well. You won’t be able to set up redirects because the page will no longer exist, so the best course of action is to delete all of the page’s links. All links to the nonexistent page will be dead, so you don’t need to keep them.

Final Words

Most links don’t last forever. They have a finite lifespan, the end of which results in a dead link. They can restrict your website’s SEO strategy by lowering your site’s link authority, reducing its referral traffic, and creating a negative experience for users.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tags: link linkbuilding seo strategy
Author: MotoCMS Editorial
Here are the official MotoCMS news, releases and articles. Find out the latest info about product, sales and updates.