Improving your business website’s broken links, or often referred to as ‘404 links‘ can improve your search engine rankings in Google. Whether it’s one of your pages linking to a 404 page on your site (a broken internal link) or your website linking to another site’s 404 page (a broken external link) you could be missing out on great backlinks or being viewed negatively by Google because of dead pages.
What Google Thinks About Broken Links
Google’s main goal for their search engine is to bring users the most quality experience/results possible, so it makes sense that things that ruin the users web experience such as broken links will cause your business’s site to be placed lower in search results compared to your competitors who might be giving users a better experience. If your website has 404 links Google will see it as less of a trustful resource for users because users will not find what they wanted/searched for (which could be in those dead links).
“-if someone is linking to a non-existent page on your site, it can be a bad experience for users (not to mention that you might not be getting credit for that link with search engines unless you’re doing extra work). Some of the easiest links you’ll ever get are when people tried to link to you and just messed up.”
If that quote on the side of the screen from Matt Cutts (who is the head of Google Web Spam) doesn’t convince you enough that you should pay attention to your broken links, there is even more clues that Google grades you on it if you look at their assistant program Webmaster Tools. In Google’s Webmaster Tools you can preview your “Crawl Errors” under your “Site Health”, that means Google perceives 404 links as an error on your behalf, and expects you to change them (that’s why they’re offering the tool).
2 Possible Benefits to Fixing Your Broken Links
Google rewards sites that strive to have a good user experience. There’s two main ways that removing 404 pages on your business’s website can benefit you:
- The first benefit Matt Cutts outlined in the quote above. Making sure to server-side 301 redirect your 404 links to better pages or replacing the page with new content is probably the easiest way to build quality backlinks to your business’s website. Right now your website could have valuable backlinks pointing to 404 pages so you would not be getting that valuable ‘link power‘. That means a lot of businesses are so focused on getting new backlinks to their website that they could possibly have tons of links that are not being utilized because the links are being pointed to dead pages.
- The second benefit is potentially higher rankings from being considered a more trust-worthy website (in Google’s eyes). A site cannot be useful if there’s dead links to possible helpful resources. Even if Google was not a factor, you would not want to have your visitors leaving your business’s website unsatisfied when they go to a broken link. That will make them trust you less.
3 Resources for 404 Link Information
If you would like to read some more information on broken links and how they can affect your business’s website please check out these resources: