Blogging is all about link building. One blog links to second, second links to next and this cycle continues. What happens when one of the links in this cycle is broken or dead? Link building is very important and equally important is to remove dead links if any. Broken links lead to a page that ceases to exist. Broken links will make you land on a page that shows Error 404 “The web page cannot be found”.
Find dead links on your blog
Blogging uses link-building techniques. One blog links to another blog, other links to next one and the process cycle continues. This is a great thing, but what if the blog you are linking no longer exists. What if the blog you linked to previously revised its links format? The link becomes dead and is harmful to your blog in following two ways:
1. Reader experience affected: Clicking on a dead link leads your readers to an error page or a page that is irrelevant to the blog post topic. In first case, dead links will throw up Error 404. In second case, the link is pointing to a different URL on the same blog as compared to the previously linked URL. This can lead to a conclusion that your blog does not stay up to date with changes to the blog it links.
2. Search engine placements may suffer: Technically as a blogger, you must hunt and remove dead links because search engines would look at dead links in a negative manner. Why so? Because search engine bots will be redirected to a wrong URL from your blog. It may ultimately lead to penalties imposed on your site by search engines like Google.
The easiest but time-consuming method for finding dead links is to check each page manually and see that all the links are live. This might be easy to implement on a new blog, but on older blogs with significant number of posts, it is impossible.
As a blogger, you can use some smart tools like Broken Link checker plugin for WordPress to hunt for dead links. Another option is to register your site in Google using Google Webmaster tools and use the diagnostics option to check for dead links.
How to tackle dead links?
There are a few options for handling dead links:
1. Replaced Dead link with live link: If the link is wrong, it is better to update the link so that it points to the correct one.
2. Delete the added link: If the link becomes dead and updating it is not possible then you can delete the link.
3. Delete the Entire Post: Occasionally it may be required to delete the entire post as the link becomes obsolete. This may be required because you cannot reference the old post that was basis of your blog post.
Whether one uses manual or automatic methods for hunting and fixing of dead links, locating and fixing dead links will help you maintain SEO rankings without paying penalty.
Dead link fixing is not one of the tasks that would be interesting for a blogger but it is necessary as it has impact on your search engines rankings and reader experience. How often do you search for dead links on your website? What do you do once you discover dead links? Please share your experience with dead links.