What to know about linkrot and how to stop it

Your site is pretty on the outside but is it full of linkrot on the inside?

I recently wrote about how to optimize your error pages, a.k.a 404 pages. That’s the page that comes up when a link to a site isn’t available anymore or is wrong.

Linkrot is what happens when a site has so many broken links (or URLs) that it’s now affecting it’s performance.

Causes include taking old content down, renaming content, or copying the link wrong. These alone might not be affected unless you, or your faithful audience, is sharing the content only to realize in a few weeks or months that it’s not working anymore.

Broken links are sometimes part of the process. If you have a special launch page for your new super duper live course, you might have it taken down afterwards to avoid confusion. Great! But now there’s a ton of links to a non-existent page…

Here’s a few ways of combating linkrot:

Use only essential links.

Depending on the type of site you have, you might want to consider the pages you’re linking to. If you’re the proud owner of a dentistry and write a blog about teeth, you might want to link more often to the contact, location, or home page. Since most of your target audience will be asking “where are they located” instead of the info on your blog. Those essential links are unlikely to change or be taken down, even through a redesign.

Create a landing page for items regularly edited.

Let’s say you write papers on food truck marketing. You could create a landing page showing all the articles pertaining to that topic and link to that, instead of the individual article. That way, you know the landing page won’t go away as easily as an article.

Plugins to check your links.

Have a ton of content to manage? Most small business owners don’t have that much content but sites for things like the city, events, or those that have contributors and posts going out every hour would need a way of keeping track.

Pay attention to your analytics and any plugins you add to your site. This could give an indication of what’s going on. A widely used plugin for WordPress sites is the broken link checker.

Just highlight the text and link it.

When the internet was new, people didn’t know what a link looked like and there wasn’t a widely used method. Now, we know that a typical link will be underlined and a different color from the body text.

Old way: “My free checklist (click here) will help you…”

New way: “My free checklist will help you…”

For those of us who learned it the old way, it might take a while to get use to simply linking to a location versus calling out the link.

Use link shorteners wisely.

These tools are great! I use bit.ly and like the analytics built in but if the service goes out, there go your links with it. Imagine all those great links going nowhere!

Just check your site regularly.

If you know a publication is linking to your site, go in and check on the link. Just do a run through at regular intervals so your site stays up-to-date and make sure that everyone who is linking to your site has the correct URL.

If you really need to change the URL, use a redirect. If you have wordpress, you can use this redirect plugin. This is perfect because it keeps the old URL but the user clicks on the new on and can link to it.

Linkrot can make for a messy site but with regular maintenance from you, your designer, or team, can ensure a healthy site! Have more questions? Sign up for a free discovery call today.

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