How important is a URL? By now, you probably already know great URLs can boost your credibility with search engines, optimize users’ experiences, and contribute to your site’s integrity because they tell people (and web crawlers) exactly what’s on the page for that specific URL. But what happens if you need to relocate someone from one URL to another? This process is called redirection. URL redirects are pretty common, and they can be necessary for any number of reasons. However, if you don’t follow redirect best practices, the hard work you’ve spent optimizing your site can easily be lost in the redirect mix.
Broken Pages & Dead Links: Effects on User Experience and Site Credibility
Pages get deleted or become unavailable on the internet all the time. While that, in itself, isn’t a problem, your ranking will be negatively affected if you’re sending people to URLs that don’t exist. Beyond that, users become frustrated when they’re sent to broken pages, which will usually send them away from your brand completely. They create the appearance that you don’t care what kind of information you’re putting on the web, which, in turn, will harm your credibility as an authority in your industry.
As broken pages relate to URL redirects, they usually happen for one of a few reasons:
- You typo’d the new URL when you created the redirect
- You forgot to create the redirect
It’s important to test your redirects after you’ve created them to ensure they’re sending users where you want them to go.
How Broken Links Affect Domain Authority and Organic Search Rankings
Domain authority is a proprietary scoring system used to help analyze your website’s popularity in the SEO world. The sites that are most likely to rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs) will rank higher on the 1-to-100 scale than brand-new sites or sites that haven’t yet established domain authority.
You achieve greater domain authority, in part, by having websites with established domain authority link back to you. If they’re linking to pages that are broken, you’re taking a big hit on your domain authority reading.
Why Does This Matter?
Google looks at your domain authority ranking in the same way you might read a Yelp! review before deciding if you want to go to a certain restaurant. If you’re getting a one-star rating, so to speak, Google is less likely to send people your way. Ultimately, this could land you far, far down in the SERPs on pages people will never even click on.
Organic search results are imperative to businesses these days. You need to have great keyword placement, location-friendly phrases (when applicable), and an easy-to-navigate website. In addition, you need to make sure that all of your links go to the right places, especially if other websites are going to be linking back to yours.
URL Redirects: Definitions & Best Practices
There are several types of URL redirects:
- 301 – This is the most common. You use a 301 when you want to permanently redirect people to a new URL. These are needed if your business is rebranding or if it was or is being purchased by another company. It tells the search engines the original domain no longer exists.
- 302 or 307 – These are temporary redirects. You might use these if your site is undergoing maintenance but will eventually come back to its original domain.
There are a number of tools available online that can help you check the status of your links and assist you with fixing anything that’s sending users to broken pages. Utilize these to their fullest, and make sure you fix everything you can find before Google gets its hands on your site. While 404 errors are frustrating for users, they’re far more off-putting to the search engines who can make or break your business.
What Happens if Your Site Produces a 404 Error?
Broken pages on a site can negatively affect your domain authority and SEO strategies. Let’s say you posted an incredible blog. Now, others in your industry have found it to be worth sharing to their audiences by linking to your content within their own conversations about the topic. Ideally, this is exactly what you want to happen because you’re showing yourself as an authority figure in your industry (hence, gaining domain authority), which will boost your credibility in the eyes of the search engines.
But what happens when you’ve redone your website, changed the URL, or somehow otherwise altered the original page on which that initial blog lived? Your glorious domain authority turns into a 404 error because the internal links that were coming to it from external sites don’t know your content has been re-homed.
In other words, none of the link equity is getting passed to a live page. Instead, any link juice is going to a “dead” page, which provides no value to anyone. To avoid this, it’s always best to practice 301 redirects to ensure broken links don’t come into the equation. 301s ensure that inbound links know where to go when others reference your content, even if it’s been moved.
SEO Advice from the Experts
Are dead links hurting your rankings? Our team can help. Contact the SEO experts at Zero Gravity Marketing today to get started.