When you build a website the ultimate goal that you probably have in mind is getting tons of traffic and conversions. This is always the goal for a majority of web and blog owners. Getting this traffic is not all that simple but then again it depends on how you choose to go about it. There are multiple strategies that are available for you to use to get your site to the top of the pack. The mistake that many people make is adopting on strategy and forgetting all about the other ones.
If there is anything that SEO experts will tell you is that you cannot survive on one strategy alone. Just like JC told the devil that man cannot live by bread alone, SEO cannot live on content marketing only or whatever other strategy that you are using. Link building is one of the strategies that are being forgotten a lot nowadays. In as much as by itself it is not very effectively, it is of great importance if you are going to use it. One thing that you will love about link building is that it will never be replaced by some other strategy. It was at the core of the original algorithm used by search engines like Google and Yahoo.
Links that do not work
One thing that many people have claimed is that they have tried to create a link profile but it has not worked in their favor. There are several reasons why your link profile might not be working well for your website. Link building is not as it was several years ago where the quantity of links was more important that the quality of those links. Today, you do not just go for any links. It is possible to have links that are not working or broken links. The main problem with these links is that they will definitely derail all that hard work you are putting into your website.
Broken links are a very common problem. These links can be harmful to your site in a number of ways. Two of these are:
- Poor user experience- when the users click on the links and reach those dead-end 404 errors, they will not be so pleased. They get frustrated to start with and the chances that they will come back again diminish.
- Lowers the value of your SEO efforts- a broken link will restrict link equity flow throughout your entire site and this will have an impact on the ranking of your website.
In a bid to avoid these possible pitfalls, you should take some time to check for broken links every once in a while. This article is meant to guide you on how to check for the broken links by yourself. It is not a very simple process when you are starting out. A majority of people opt to look for an SEO agency to do that work for them. Depending on the size of your website’s link profile you might need professional help to get that work done. It goes without saying that if you have a very large link profile then definitely you will need professional assistance.
Finding the broken links
There are several tools that you can employ to find these links. One that you probably are using already is Google Analytics. This tool is great when it comes to tracking website performance. To make things even more interesting- it is absolutely free! What many people do not know is that aside from helping you track your traffic and location of your visitors it can also help you find broken links. When you log into your analytics account, you can set an evaluation period for the period of time you want to focus on. If you decide to check for broken links every month then you should set the period for the month since the last time you checked.
At this point what you want to find out is whether your site’s 404 error page has been visited within that period of time. In the Content by Title section on the dashboard proceed to load the page. Add a filter at the bottom by typing your website’s 404 error page in the blank box after ‘filter page title: containing’. All links that are nonexistent or those that are broken are going to trigger this page.
When you click the ‘Go’ button that is one the Google Analytics filter page you will get to view the details. The results will show you how many times the 404 error page was visited and which pages led to that error. To make your work easier you can change the rows that are shown per page from 10 to 100. It is also possible to set email alerts that will give you these broken link reports regularly. Fixing broken links is something that you will be doing regularly.
Fixing the broken links
One tool that comes highly recommended by professionals in SEO for this job is Xenu Link Sleuth. When you install it, proceed to the File section and then ‘check URL’. Here you will enter your site’s domain. Always remember to uncheck the box that is titled ‘check external links’ and then click ‘ok’ and then run the analysis. It is also worth pointing out that if it is your first time using Xenu then it can take some time to give you the full report. Patience will therefore be great for you.
Another tool that many people use, specially if you have a WordPress site is Broken Link Checker, a free plugin that can be found on the WordPress repository. Broken Link Checker does a good job and has many features that you can find only on some professional plugins. Here’s the link of the broken link checker plugin in case you are interested. It’s free!
Google Analytics, Xenu and broken links checker are going to provide you with a list of the links that are broken. You should take some time to analyze these pages to give out why they are not working properly. This is because you could potentially redirect a link that is working properly. A majority of links that appear broken are visited only once or twice. This is usually because of human error such as someone having mistyped an incorrect URL. These are not worth fixing. Only links that have several visits are the ones that are worth redirecting.
Your link building efforts should not be pulled down by broken links. Finding and fixing them is quite an easy job. It should also be a task that has some time devoted to it. Set aside a few hours of your week or month to do this. For an average site, checking for the broken links monthly is enough but for high performance sites, weekly checks are beneficial.