Do you publish multiple links per month? Per week? Per day?
For most marketers and web developers, managing link volume is a reality. In fact, many Rebrandly customers send tens of thousands of unique links per month. Some send millions or more.
With that volume, it may feel impossible to keep track of each link and ensure it doesn’t lead a customer, potential buyer, partner, or employee to a dreaded 404 redirect.
Not only can broken links negatively impact user experience, harm your app or website’s ability to drive traffic, and hurt your brand’s reputation. They can keep your customers from spending money, sending payments, and getting the information they need. Broken links can break your bottom line.
And sometimes, a broken link can go unnoticed until significant damage has been done.
4 Tips to Avoid The Dreaded 404 Redirect
To avoid these negative consequences, it’s essential to implement best practices for managing links over time. In this blog post, we’ll cover some of the most effective ways to avoid broken links and ensure a seamless user experience for your website visitors.
1. Regularly Check for Broken Links
The first step to avoiding broken links is to know where to look for them. There are several tools that can help here. Ahrefs Broken Link Checker will highlight links that are broken, based on your domain. If you use WordPress, you have the ability to discover broken links using the Broken Link Checker plugin, and Google’s Search Console can provide preliminary data based on indexing issues that you may have. to regularly check your website for any broken links.
If you’re looking for a more robust solution, Rebrandly’s Broken Link Management solution allows you to monitor each of the domain names managed in your Rebrandly account, and see each of the broken links clicked in the last 30 days. As a bonus, these clicks exclude visits from bots/spiders, so you can rank your broken links based on their impact.
Once you’ve discovered which links are broken, you can prioritize which need to be fixed first.
2. Use Permalinks Instead of Temporary Links
Temporary links, such as those used for promotions or events, can cause broken links when they expire. Consider using permalinks instead of temporary links. Permalinks are meant to be used long-term and won’t expire, making them a more reliable option for link management.
With Rebrandly, you can also set dynamic routing rules in your dashboard based on a custom timeframe, so users who visit that link after a specific date are automatically directed to a different destination of your choosing.
3. Redirect Old Links
If you’ve made changes to your website or removed old content, you should redirect any old links to relevant, new content. By doing so, you avoid broken links and ensure that you are directing users to the correct content.
301 redirects are the best option for redirecting old links. Use a 301 redirect when a web page has been permanently moved. If a web page is temporarily offline temporarily, use a 302 redirect. You can find out more about the various types of URL redirects here.
4. Update Content and Referral Links
If you’ve changed your website’s URL structure, it’s essential to update any links in your content and on referring sites.
This process should include all links in your blog posts, landing pages, and other content. By doing so, you can avoid broken links and ensure that users reach the desired destination.
Let’s say for this post that I linked to a guide about broken link management, but didn’t update that link when we updated the guide to a more current version. I’ve just created a bad user experience that I need to address through an audit of all content and links.
External links to your site, such as those on other websites, can also cause broken links. If the website linking to your site hasn’t reflected a changed URL, or you’ve removed the content, the link on their website will no longer work. To avoid this, it’s essential to monitor external links regularly and update them if necessary.
The Ahrefs Broken Link Checker I mentioned earlier will check backlinks and give you the opportunity to correct those issues with partnering referral sites.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Avoiding broken links is essential for maintaining a positive user experience and preserving your website’s SEO, but it’s also essential for making the buyer and customer journeys as simple and efficient as possible, improving your revenue stream.
By regularly checking for broken links, using permalinks instead of temporary links, redirecting old links, updating links in your content, and monitoring external links, you can effectively manage your links over time and avoid the negative consequences of broken links.