Broken inbound links are the curse of many website owners. There’s nothing more frustrating than finding that a new link to your site has been broken through a simple misspelling or typo.
Not only do they create a poor experience for visitors, they also cause issues for search engine spiders and your overall ranking in search engines.
The good news is that there are a number of ways to fix broken inbound links, and if successful, they can be one of the most effective ways to increase your ranking.
How Many Broken Links Do You Have?
The most effective way to uncover broken links is to log in to your Google Webmaster account and visit Diagnostics > Crawl Errors > Web and see how many Not Found (404) errors you have.
If you don’t have a Google webmaster account, there are also a some free tools which can help you identify these pages.
3 Steps to Fix Broken Links
- Contact the Webmaster – If you notice the webmaster of an external site is using a broken link, contact them directly to fix the error. You may also want to give them some anchor text suggestions to improve the SEO weight of the link.
- Set up a 301 Redirect – If you’re unable to contact the webmaster, setting up a permanent (301) redirect will help to send search engines and visitors to the correct page. The good news from an SEO point of view, is that search engines also transfer any link juice from the previously broken URL to the correct URL on your site.
- Create a Custom 404 Page – If your site has hundreds of one-off broken links, using a custom 404 error page is a good way to help visitors find the page they were looking for. Using a custom 404 page means that instead of returning a generic “File not found” error page, users will see a much more useful 404 error page with links to additional content, your sitemap and more. You can learn more about creating custom 404 error pages here.
And that’s a wrap – if you’ve got any other tips to optimize external links, please share them in the blow comments below.