7 Tips To Prevent Link Rot

Link rot is a term used to describe broken links on a webpage. It is what happens when hyperlinks in a webpage cease to point links to the targeted pages or content linked within a website. Link rot has been a problem that has plagued search engines for a long time, and many have tried to fix the issue. The most popular attempt is the Internet Archive, which has acquired over 780 billion web pages in the Wayback Machine over the past 20 years.

In this article

  1. What Is Link Rot?
  2. What Causes Link Rot?
  3. What Is Link Reclamation?
  4. Can You Fix Link Rot?
  5. How To Prevent Link Rot
  6. Tips To Protect Existing Links
  7. Is There A Solution?
  8. Related Reads

What Is Link Rot?

Link rot also called dead links, is when a page has broken links that don’t lead anywhere. This could be because the page was moved, taken down, or re-optimized. Broken links are not uncommon on the internet. In fact, numerous studies have shown that one in every 200 links is a broken link. An average website would have more links than that. If you were to click on a rotten link, it would result in a 404 error followed by a message that says the page cannot be found.

Dead links are a common occurrence on the internet and happen every time a website goes down. With link rot, the linking site will not direct to the targeted link address. However, you can retrieve the links using link reclamation if the website is being reorganized. 

What Causes Link Rot?

Link rot can occur for numerous reasons, including the target page being removed, the server of the target page could have been taken down, or it could have been moved to another domain name. Every site is affected by link rot. All sites have backlinks that will decay in time and eventually rot. Some are caused by other factors, such as

  1. Changes to URLs caused by website restructuring
  2. Free content might have been moved behind a paywall (content that requires payment or subscription)
  3. Changes to the server architecture which lead to changes in the code, like PHP functionality (scripting language for web development)
  4. Deliberate blocking that is caused by firewalls or internet filters
  5. Expiration of domain name registration
  6. Dynamic page content where the URLs keep changing, such as search results 

What Is Link Reclamation?

Link reclamation is restoring the connection of the old rotten links. The broken links are identified and then replaced with new URLs. It is a necessary process that helps content marketers preserve quality content and backlinks

Can You Fix Link Rot?

Many of the web links you see may be lost over time, but there are ways you can still recover them. As mentioned above, one such method is link reclamation. Most of the time, the URL of the pages that have link rot may be redirected to other pages, meaning the broken link might still be available on other websites that use it as an external link. If the damage is only recent, you still have time to reclaim those links.

How To Prevent Link Rot

The best way to protect your website from a link rot problem is to know beforehand what not to do. To prevent link rot:

1. Focus on linking to primary instead of secondary sources, and prioritize sites that are stable.

2. Do not link research pages to the researcher’s personal web page, as there is a chance it might get deleted later.

3. Use URLs that are user-friendly and accessible to the user as well as the search engines.

4. Use permalinks while publishing an article to keep the URL intact for many years. It also helps prevent dead links.

5. Avoid linking to documents and focus more on web pages.

6. Keep away from deep linking. Deep linking is when the hyperlinks point to a specific piece of web content, like a “path” to the webpage. 

7. Avoid linking to web archives like internet archives. Web archives are pages on the internet where the information collected from the world wide web is stored only for the purpose of preservation and education.

Broken links can be identified manually or automatically using plug-ins in a content management system.

Tips To Protect Existing Links

Before the links break on your website, you must focus on protecting them.

1. Using a redirect to help crawlers and browsers to find the relocated content.

2. Making use of content management systems like Word Press to find the relocated content and update the links automatically.

Is There A Solution?

There are ways to preserve links, but it is impossible to do so for the entire internet because there is still a chance that some of the links might slip through the search engine. As time passes, some internet content will start to fade away. For webmasters, the short-term solution is to take preventative measures to be better prepared and use redirects to keep the dead links intact. 

Related Reads

7 Tips to Outsource Link Building

What Should You Not Do in a Link Building?

Link Building for Search Engine Marketing: Here’s What We Found

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