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Bad Links Almost Certainly Impact SEO

Stored in Marketing and tagged
404 Error
Broken link building is an easy way to build (actually rebuild) SEO ranks.

Bad links within a site most likely hurt search engine rankings. Sometimes absolute proof isn’t there, but the evidence adds up.

Quite simply, they damage website metrics from visitors who click on them. And weak metrics impact search engine optimization.

Why do bad links hurt search engine optimization?

  1. Bad links signal low quality to search engines.
  2. They frustrate visitors who are more likely to leave the site.
  3. Visitors who leave a site prematurely lower pages per visit, bounce rate, time on site and other important metrics that search engines track.

Find Errors With Search Consoles

One of the most important website management tools is Google’s Search Console. Anyone who is interested in using it can go to Google and do a search on the term “search console”. It will pop up to the top of the results page.

Sign in, follow the instructions and add the site to track. Wait a day or two for data to start showing up.

Now click into the site profile. On the left side, click on Coverage under the Index category.

Note the four possible reports: error, valid with warning, valid and excluded.

The error report matters most. The most likely error is “Submitted URL not found (404)”.

Why Does It Matter?

Here is a simple question: Why would Google create these reports if they weren’t important? And if they are important to Google, they are important to search engine rankings.

The reason why is the user experience. It matters in fixing bad links for that reason alone and not just to improve SEO rankings.

Imagine going through a reorganization of a site that changes the paths of certain folders.

If links for those folders exist within articles or other navigational means, they will no longer work.

Likewise, imagine an article that expires or is deleted but has links going to it. Again, the links will no longer work.

Because Google tracks user behavior, it will note that a user goes to a page, clicks on a link and gets a not found or “404” error page.

Similarly, Google’s crawlers will go through a site on a regular basis (sometimes repeatedly throughout the day depending on the site) and test the links it finds.

The end result is the report in Webmaster Central.

Tracking Bad Links

The first problem for many site managers is that checking bad links often seems to be 98th on a priority list.

Even more, it is something that might be done once — when someone remembers to do it — and then forgotten once again until it is rediscovered a year or two down the road.

An easy answer is an automated reminder in a digital calendar. Once a month is ideal.

Although fixing a small number of errors may not have much impact on a site’s rankings, there is evidence to indicate that fixing numerous errors will have an impact.

Fixing them also will increase use experience, pages per visitor and total ad inventory.

In the complex world of SEO, fixing bad links is just one of many tactics that will help. But it is certainly worth doing on a regular basis.

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