With constant algorithm changes, it can be hard to know what’s most important to Google.

These days, they are even more tight-lipped, barring us SEO junkies from their precious hoard of secrets.

Except, Google has said what they value.

backlinks

In March 2016, Google revealed the top three most important ranking factors in Google ranking:  

  • Links
  • Content
  • RankBrain (their ranking algorithm)

Two years later, content and quality links have continued to rise in importance. Recent Google algorithm updates have continued to penalize sites with low quality content and either a low quantity of links or spammy ones. In reverse, they continue to reward sites with quality content and links. Here in the SEO world, we all like Google’s rewards.

Paying attention to and fixing your broken pages and in turn, broken links, allows you to regain valuable link equity or juice pointing to your site, which can substantially increase your chance of ranking well in search engines.

WHY ALL THE BROKEN LINKS?

It’s easy for pages to get lost and go unnoticed without continual maintenance. Sometimes in the grand scheme of things, broken links get lost in the cracks. How? Here are some of the most common ways those pages disappear–and your much-valued links with them:

  • The site changed its domain
  • The post or page was deleted
  • The post or page was moved

Those 404 pages aren’t pretty to users, and they’re definitely not pretty to Google.

OUCH, THAT HURTS

If there were external links from other sites linking to any one of those pages, not only does it make your site look sloppy to Google, it can also lose you the much-needed link juice those sites were passing to you. It’s a lose-lose situation. Neglecting to restore broken backlinks is a big missed opportunity to gain quick equity with Google and therefore raise your rankings (not to mention the actual referral traffic those sites might have been sending you!). Everybody wants high rankings, and sometimes, you just need the right trick up your sleeve.

THE SIMPLE SOLUTION

That “trick” is just a simple solution that is often overlooked. In the search for new linking opportunities, taking advantage of existing opportunities is often overlooked, although it can be just as beneficial and much faster.

One of the ways to gain link equity from existing opportunities is to reclaim currently broken external links pointing to your site by redirecting them to the correlating page on your site, therefore restoring that approval and credit with Google. It’s called Broken Link Reclamation, and here’s how it benefits you:

  • You get your link juice back without having to search for new link opportunities and save all the time that entails.
  • Google will turn a fond eye upon you for that link equity.
  • The only thing better than a brand mention is a link to your site.

It’s a win-win situation.

HOW DO I DO IT AND WHAT DO I GET FROM IT?Link Building

Most of the time, identifying and fixing these backlinks is as simple as using a tool such as ahrefs.com and redirecting, or reclaiming all those broken links to the most suitable existing pages in a Broken Link Reclamation.

Let’s use ahrefs.com as an example. All you do is enter your site in the search bar, click on “Broken Links” in the menu to the left, and all your broken links are revealed in moments. Export it to an excel document and you’ll have a full list of the page with the link, the page on your site it originally directed to, the Domain Authority, and “follow” or “nofollow” status.

It’s best to expect the unexpected. You could have less than a dozen, or, if it’s been a while since you last looked, you can have hundreds (or sometimes we see thousands or even tens of thousands). When you have something like 600 or more broken links, that can look a little bit daunting. Don’t panic. That’s 600 links with equity gained in one fell swoop.

The tricky part is organizing the redirects and determining what pages on your site to direct those links to (they should be similar in content to the broken page those links were previously directed to). That can take some work. Taking into account search intent during this process is crucial; you don’t want someone to click on a link for “manufacturing” and end up on a page on your site for “transportation.” You shouldn’t just send them anywhere, and it’s more beneficial to you if they go directly to a product or informational page than just your Home or Contact page.

They’re clicking that link because they want to know more about something in particular, so make sure that “particular” matches the page you redirect the link to. Once a page has been chosen for each link, all that’s left is to implement the 301 redirects.

That’s it. You just got your lost link mojo back. And not just mojo, but very often, real significant results. From a simple Broken Link Reclamation, many sites see an increase in keyword rankings from this process alone. However, it isn’t a one-time thing – link reclamation should be a part of your monthly routine. Maintenance is key to making sure you never have too many broken links and 404s at any one time.

KEEP YOUR SITE CLEAN

There are a few ways to reduce the number of broken links to your site in the future. Reclaiming broken links can give you a nice boost but losing links in the first place—not so good.

Here are some tips to keep broken links at bay:

  • Firstly, make sure that any time there’s a URL or site navigation change on your website that you do 301 redirects to the new relevant content. Sooner, not later.
  • Secondly, you can use Google Webmaster Tools to regularly crawl your site and keep an eye out for 404s before they become a messy mountain.

There are also other tools to specifically check for broken links to your site, which you want to keep nice and clean. Most tools are free, like www.brokenlinkcheck.com—a useful way to find dead links and either remove them or redirect them.

GET THE LINKS, GET THE RANKS

For such a simple process with a good payoff, it’s a surprise that Broken Link Reclamation is so easily forgotten—or maybe just ignored. However, the benefits of doing regular Broken Link Reclamations far surpass the occasional tediousness of the task.

Google’s approval is hard to gain, and they’ve stated that links are one of the top three ways to get it. In the hustle and bustle of link building and outreach, don’t forget you already have links waiting to be claimed that require less effort and less time.

Need a hand? Contact us for more help with Broken Link Reclamations and SEO – we’ll be happy to help.

 

 

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