As you may know, I’ve been writing in this blog a very long time (about 5 years soon), and have more than 1,100 posts. Because so many of my posts were written so long ago, I’m guessing that I have more broken links than I’d like to imagine. Am I worried?
No, not really.
Search engines won’t generally downgrade your site for broken links, unless all of the links are broken, your content is so far out of date that it’s ridiculous, and you haven’t written anything new in a coon’s age. (Do raccoon’s have different year lengths than us? Hmm… One wonders.)
What happens when visitors find broken links?
It happened to me just this morning, and it’s on a well-read SEO blog. It’s not the case of an old post because the post was written last week! I know these things happen, but I thought, “Wow, that’s unprofessional.” If the page had been older, it wouldn’t have mattered to me much. Sites come and go and that happens. But a broken link in a post from last week? Puh-lease! That’s just sloppy.
And your readers will feel the same way. In fact, if they’re not old Websters, like us, they probably won’t understand that broken links happen. They may get pissed off and never come back again.
Remember, your website is for your audience, not for search engines and not for your vanity. It’s for the people you want to bond with so that they can a) see you as an authority in your field and b) buy stuff from you when it’s time to sell something. You want them to respect you, and you want to give them more value than anything. Your readers should always, always, always come first. So, it’s a win-win situation. They get great content with links they can follow for more good information from you and you get happy potential customers.
How to find broken links
There’s a great extension for the Chrome browser called “Check My Links.” When you run it on any page, it checks every link and tells you which ones are not connecting. Here’s how the report looks (check the upper right-hand corner with the big 100%):
You’ll notice that there are two “broken” links on my front page. Yikes! They appear in red, and Check My Links tells you what type of break it is, too. For example, the link to my author page is red and next to it is “408,” which meant it didn’t load fast enough and timed out. I have to see why that’s happening.
There was another link in my sidebar for the FeedBlitz subscription preview, which was listed as a “404.” That means it’s a page that’s just not there. That was weird because when I clicked it, the page worked fine.
So, it’s not perfect, but it is a great way to find information about your links. If they’re broken, you can fix them. Either get the right URL or redirect the link to a page with similar information. Use a 301 or permanent redirect so as not to confuse spiders. Or, if you can’t do either, just remove the link. It’s better to have no link at all than to have one that’s not clickable.
The last thing you want your potential clients to think is that you’re not competent. Otherwise, you’ll never be hired or sell a thing.