Broken links can be like a virus to some websites that link to a number of other websites. I call it a virus because websites rise and fall everyday and, in many instances, they are already linked-to by other webmasters creating an unpredictable consequence for linking to external content for webmasters keen on technical site integrity.
If 700 websites link to your website, and your site ceases to exist for whatever reason, over 700 websites now have broken links. Having broken links on your site, internal or external, won’t do anything good for your search engine rankings so its important to periodically scan your website for broken links. At the end of the day, linking to off-site content is one thing, but predicting the life of the website, or content, you link to is a different matter entirely.
For Example: Newspapers often delete content without regard for if it has been linked-to or referenced elsewhere on the web.
Believe it or not, this is often a phenomenon that goes either undetected or escapes the concern of website administrators worldwide.
If you ever notice a drop off in your search engine rankings, then it may be because there are broken links on your site compromising the integrity of your website as viewed by the search engines.
Reasons Why Broken Links Occur
There are a few reasons why a site may develop broken links and they are listed below.
- Internal links to your own content may be broken due to a restructuring of your website.
- Some images may have been deleted, resulting in a broken link. This can happen with images on your own site as well, or images elsewhere on the web that you have linked to. You can check for broken links with my favorite free Broken Link Checker.
- Deleted content or whole websites that you are linking to. Again, deleted content can happen either on or off site.
- Video Removed. There is nothing nastier than having a video embedded on your site, and noticing that its been removed. The easiest way to detect deleted videos if you are using WordPress is with a Video SEO plugin that will show thumbnails of embedded videos. If you see the “gray thumbnail” in your video sitemap, chances are the video has been removed and you need to address your content.
Periodically Check For Broken Links
I make it my business to check me and my clients’ web properties for broken links on a periodic basis and I recommend you do the same. If you find any broken links festering in the dark corners of your web properties, remove them, update them, or link to similar content.