Link rot is a term used in the marketing industry to describe the process of web page links becoming broken or outdated overtime. This is a common problem that businesses face and it can damage search engine rankings, impair user experience, and lead to the loss of important web traffic.
In order to understand why link rot occurs, it’s important to understand how the internet works. Every website is composed of webpages which can be linked together to allow users to move between them. When pages are linked together, they create a ‘web’ structure which helps users to navigate around the website.
In order for these links to work, they must remain active over time. If links become unavailable, then users will be unable to reach the webpage they are searching for which is where link rot becomes an issue.
Link rot can be caused for a variety of reasons: changes in web technologies, modifications to the website structure, or due to poor website management - when content on the internet is moved or removed, any links pointing to that content will become ‘dead’ or broken.
To help prevent link rot, it is important for businesses to understand how to manage, monitor, and maintain all of their web links on a regular basis. The following are some general guidelines and best practices to help you reduce the chances of link rot:
1. Use an automatic link checking tool: Link checking tools such as Screaming Frog can quickly detect any broken URLs and alert you when they occur.
2. Monitor your external links: Webpages with links to external sources are particularly vulnerable to link rot since any changes to those sources will break the link. Monitor external links to ensure that they are still valid and up to date.
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3. Use relative URLs: Relative URLs are URLs that will not break if the link to the source page changes. For example, instead of using an absolute URL (http:/www.example.com), you can use a relative URL (/page1.html) which will remain valid even if the domain or web address changes.
4. Monitor internal links: Link rot can also occur between pages within the same website. Be sure to regularly monitor your internal links to ensure that they are all working correctly.
5. Be aware of link shorteners: Link shorteners such as Bitly or TinyURL can be used to shorten long URLs into a more manageable format. However, these links can break if the source is removed or updated.
6. Use web crawlers and search engine optimization (SEO) tools: Web crawlers such as Google’s Spider can help you detect any broken links before they become a problem. SEO tools, such as Ahrefs, can also help you identify any broken links, while also analyzing other aspects of your website such as page titles and meta descriptions.
7. Update content regularly: Regularly updating your website content is also important since it can help to ensure that any external links remain valid.
By following these general guidelines and best practices and keeping your website up to date, you can help to ensure that link rot does not become a problem for your website. Link rot can have serious negative effects on your website’s search engine rankings, user experience, and traffic, so it is important to take steps to prevent it from occurring.