Fixing Old Broken Links – Is This Strategy Still Needed?

This strategy was considered to be SEO best practice. But sometimes when you use this strategy, nothing happens. Let’s discuss whether you need to fix old links and how to increase your chances of seeing the benefits.

What do we use this strategy for?

One should know simple thing: links pass link signals and then Google uses links for things like PageRank and anchor text. In case those links are found, you will get a rankings boost. Page 404s means those link signals don't have a chance to pass anymore, and that can affect your SEO. This situation is caused by one of two reasons.

The first one: the link itself is bad. A certain page doesn't exist on your website or someone might type it wrong. Or it may be that certain page on your site breaks. You remove it and you don't redirect it to another page.

To regain link juice and get ranking benefit that Google is looking for, we need to check this issue and fix those links. However, there are times when it doesn't work.

1. Some links don’t count

Actually, Google doesn't count a lot of links such as spam links, manipulative links, or some non-editorial links. When a tool shows that a link is broken or that is a non-existent page, it doesn’t necessarily mean that link actually has value.

2. The links are with low value

Google considers those links of low value. Imagine s page that's 10 years old and it doesn't get very much traffic at all. There are no visitors. So, Google doesn't even rank it. Would you expect Google to attach a lot of value by fixing that broken link? Probably not. So a lot of times when you're fixing broken links, you may find low value, not fresh links, pages that aren't updated. They may not pass a lot of value and fixing them may not have a lot of benefit.

3. Redirection to an irrelevant URL

When you fixed the link, but you redirected it to an irrelevant URL or a URL that's not as proper. Some site remove an entire section and they redirect everything to the homepage. They just get rid of a subdomain. Google marks them as soft 404s. It means they see your redirect, but they don't consider the page that you're redirecting to to be as relevant as the original page.

4. Google might not rely on active links

There is a theory that Google might not rely on active links, so these link signals don't need to be there all the time for Google to value them. Usually Google tells usto leave those redirects in place for a year. One says that after a year any value in those link signals has already disappears. Actually, we don't really how Google treats these older links, so sometimes it is not needed for links to be live to pass value, so fixing appears to be really unnecessary thing.

Broken link building

1. Fix broken links anyway

Do this, because we don't know which links Google consider to be proper, and you can see a benefit. Moreover, it is a good user experience. User don’t want to see broken pages, and those links will definitely have no value to Google.

2. Pages with high authority in priority

You don't need to fix all of the broken links on your site. But you should prioritize the high value links. Those must be your most valuable links to fix.

3. Links with freshness signals also in priority

Try to avoid those 10-year-old pages as much as possible and prioritize the most important pages which are regularly updated, get traffic, etc.

4. Redirect to relevant URLs if of high importance

Do not redirect everything to the homepage or to a category page that's definitely will not provide a good user experience to someone coming from the old link. If there is no possibility to redirect to a relevant page – think, maybe you shouldn’t do it, and 404s are just fine for the situation.

5. Don’t fix every link

Broken links are a part of the internet. That would be a great waste of money and effort. Read abovementioned cases when the fix is needed and try to implement those methods.

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