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Broken links are killing your local SEO strategy

6 minutes of reading
Broken links are killing your local SEO strategy
Category SEO

Broken links are the bane of webmasters, content marketers, and search engine optimization specialists everywhere, but did you know that broken links can actually have an impact on your local search strategy? Whether you’re trying to get more customers from your location listing or boost your organic ranking in local search, broken links are something that can significantly affect these goals. Find out more in this post on the impact of broken links on local SEO strategy.


What is local search engine optimization?

Local search engine optimization is the process of affecting the visibility of a business on local search engines. It’s about capturing qualified, nearby leads by getting a site to rank well on search engines like Google and Bing in relevant geographic areas.

What affects your visibility in local search results?

The best way to rank highly in local search results is to get external links from high-authority websites. High quality backlinks help increase the website’s ranking in search engine results pages, or SERPs. There are several benefits of high quality backlinks, but they all contribute to the likelihood that a user will click on your website when they’re looking for information on a specific topic. Users who come to your site via links are more likely to be ready to buy than people who arrive at your site through other channels.

Links from other relevant websites to your own website act as votes of confidence. Google assigns a PageRank score to each link. According to their calculations, the higher the PageRank of a linking site, the more valuable that vote of confidence becomes. To put it simply, Google looks at every page on its index and then checks out how many other pages point to it by including links to it within their content.

A broken link is when a hyperlink on your website is not working. Every time you click on a broken link, you are sending visitors away from your site. Not only does this create frustration for your visitors, but it also impacts how well you rank in search engines because Google penalizes sites with lots of links that go nowhere.

The impact on search engines

As your business grows, so does the amount of content you have to post. Traffic is getting higher and higher, but in order to rank for your local keywords, you need lots of links from authoritative sites. This is where broken links come into play. When people share a piece of content on their site that’s no longer active because it’s been deleted or archived, this counts as a link to your website that’s not an authoritative one-and that can hurt the likelihood of ranking on Google and local listings.

While broken links and redirects can be easily fixed by finding the problem and then simply changing the link, they’re not that easy to find. More often than not, these issues will just cause people to bounce from your website quickly. And with Google now ranking websites based on whether or not visitors stay on a site for a certain amount of time, you need every visitor you can get – even those who leave after only reading one sentence.

How to detect broken links?

Though this may seem daunting, there are some tools that can help you check links to make sure they are functioning properly. This is safer than checking links manually, which also saves you a lot of time.

One of the best SEO tools for building links is Google Search Console, which is free and includes many useful features. There is a Cover option on the left side of the panel. Selecting it displays other features such as Details. Click on the Redirect Errors tab to see 404 and server errors in one convenient location. Further below, you will find more detailed information on broken links. Links can be filtered and downloaded. When I click on one of these broken links, a window pops up with further details, such as where the content is sourced from.

Different tool is Broken Link Checker from Rytr that has three modules: website success, content success, and search success. The Website Success module contains a tool for checking broken links. Broken cables are highlighted in red, so you can easily identify them from other ones. Filtering out many results is possible if there is a large amount of data.

Third perfect tool is Screaming Frog. It is loved by SEO specialists. The central area will fill up with addresses soon after you enter your website URL there and click “Start”. It analyzes SEO-relevant website data and examines up to 500 URLs for free in its free version. You can access unlimited URL analytics, scheduling including auto-initialization, JavaScript rendering, structured data validation, integration with external services such as Google Analytics and Search Console, and much more with the paid version.

The most common causes of broken links

  • Invalid URL (spelling mistake).
  • Changed URL structure that has not been updated.
  • Link moved or deleted.
  • Interference from installed plugs.
  • Firewall or geolocation restrictions.

What you can do about them?

A broken link can not only be confusing for your visitors, but it can also hinder your ability to reach new prospects and engage with those who already trust you. Here are some simple steps you can take to identify, monitor, and address any broken links in your website:

  • Implement analytics on all pages of your site.
  • Make a backup of all webpages.
  • Monitor ranking fluctuations in search engine results pages.
  • Create a list of all 404 pages.
  • Update existing URLs or create redirects.
  • Remember that keeping your site’s navigation easy is important too.

Think like a web crawler. When Google’s spiders crawl your site, make sure they have easy access to content. Don’t hide links or pages deep in directories and make sure that internal links are leading to the appropriate pages. When linking out, use URLs without keyword stuffed anchor text and stick to natural anchor text such as your business name or location-based keywords.

Collect valuable backlinks

You can collect valuable backlinks by joining the local chamber of commerce, networking with other business owners in your community, and hosting promotional events to get the word out about your new business. Don’t forget about Google My Business listing, guest posting, and social media. Take care of quality, not quantity. Keep an eye on what people are saying about you online – you might be able to gain some additional backlinks just by providing a customer service or resolving a complaint that someone has expressed online.

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Last words

Broken links on your website create obstacles for Google’s crawlers, which may negatively impact the reputation of your site. This doesn’t only happen to large companies with websites containing thousands of pages. There is no way to know if a specific page on your site might have broken links or what the fallout will be from them. However, one thing is certain: by correcting these mistakes now, you can minimize any harm that may come from having many broken links in the future.

Aleksandra Pietrzak
Curator at the National Museum in Poznań, graduate of Art History at the Jagiellonian University and Contemporary Art at the Pedagogical University of Krakow, curator of exhibitions and author of scientific and popular texts. A lover of contemporary art, literature and travel.
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