Broken links are a natural part of digital marketing life.
Websites move on, pages get deleted. It’s all a part of the joys and stresses of SEO and content marketing.
But, while it’s annoying to lose links that you’ve spent time earning, it’s possible to get them back or replace them.
This is called link reclamation. And it’s something that can help save your SEO and even get you above the competition, because not many people actually do it.
Everyone is obsessed with new. Getting new customers. Looking for shiny new marketing tools and trends. And getting new links.
But looking after and maintaining the links you’ve already got is just as important as new link building.
It’s not as flash or high profile as earning new links, but link reclaiming links by finding broken or removed links to your site and either replacing them or fixing them does just as much good.
It’s a good way of keeping your ‘link juice’ which you can keep topping up with new links.
Remember, getting new links to your site is great but doesn’t add anything if you’re losing older links just as quickly.
So here’s a few things to be aware of:
First, look at where links to your site are pointing people towards a page that no longer exists. What you can do is simply redirect the page to another one.
But, be careful about where you’re sending these links. For example, simply redirecting broken links to your homepage can be seen by Google as trying to engineer a higher amount of links to your homepage, which could result in a penalty.
Also, for the user, it’s a bad experience to click on a link expecting to land on a specific page, and landing on a home page.
What you should do instead is recreate an updated version of the broken page and redirect people to that. For instance, you may have written a guide for 2020 that got a lot of links. But now it’s 2021 and the guide isn’t there anymore.
Create a new 2021 version and redirect users to that page with a note explaining that the guide has been updated for a new year.
This one is a bit more complicated, especially when it comes to changing links of news websites.
For a start there’s no inclination for the other person to change a broken link to your website, especially if you’re adding no value on the new page.
This is another reason why updating older content is so useful because it gives other websites more incentive to update the link. After all, they don’t want to link people to out-of-date information.
It gets a bit easier if you’re dealing with partners or businesses you work a bit closer with.
Just a simple email explaining that they already link to your website but the page they’re linking to no longer exists, with an updated link, can result in getting links changed.
Again, there’s no guarantee this will work, and if it doesn’t then you might have to rely on redirecting the end destination on your website.
How do you even know when links from other websites are broken or pointing to non-existent pages?
SEO tools do exist that can help with this, one of the better ones is ahrefs, which we use.
They have a specific section on the dashboard that can identify broken links, which is updated periodically.
We’d recommend investing in a tool like this if you’re not going to use an SEO agency, because the truth is you can’t be 100% aware of all the websites pointing towards yours.
Having one of these tools is just a better way of keeping track of everything.
They’ll tell you some key bits of info, like the URL of the referring page and the URL that’s broken.
Some can also give you the number of people coming through the broken link to your website – which is useful for finding out if you’re potentially losing large amounts of traffic and can help when prioritising which links to fix first.
They say in sport that getting to the top is only the beginning, staying there is the hard bit.
Good link building shouldn’t just be about constantly going after the new links. Yes, they’re important and a big part of getting to the top.
But if you want to stay at the top, you need to put just as much effort in keeping the links you’ve earned than you do getting new ones.
If you’ve got questions about your website’s link profile or if you need help with link reclamation and winning back those lost links, then get in touch with us.
You could even get a free SEO audit and we’ll tell you directly whether you have any broken links that could be hurting your SEO performance.