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Julia Hammond
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Don’t spill the juice! Why links are so important to your SEO strategy

Links form an important part of your SEO strategy and, if your links are broken, you can find yourself slipping down the ranks. A broken link occurs when the page the link is supposed to lead to is no longer accessible.

Broken links make for broken trust. If the links on your site break without your knowledge, you can be leading your visitors astray without a clue. Web users rely on your site to provide the information they’re after and, if they come across a link they’re interested in and the connection isn’t solid, it reflects poorly on your brand.

Why do links matter for SEO?

If your site is widely regarded as a useful resource that provides engaging information relevant to the search queries entered, you are likely to rank well in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). So, if SEO is all about relevance, usefulness and engagement, where do links come in?

Links represent your site’s authority in search engines. The logic is that, if other sites are referring to your content, your site must be a good resource. The more high-authority sites that link back to yours, creating what’s called a backlink, the higher your authority becomes in the eyes of Google. This, in turn, affects your Google ranking.

What is link juice?

If you’ve read this far and you’re still not sure what ‘juice’ has to do with the price of fish, here’s your explanation. ‘Link juice’ is the term used by SEO specialists to describe this site authority. Theoretically, the higher your authority, the higher your rank.  In the past, the more backlinks you had, the better your authority; however, now the Google algorithm is much smarter. Now, the more relevant and credible the linking source, the higher your authority becomes.

What is internal linking?

Internal links matter, too. Linking your pages to one another gives search engines an indication that you are providing lots of information about a range of related topics. This is also an indication that your site is a useful resource to the people searching for it.

How can you identify a broken link?

There are a number of programs you can use to identify whether there are broken links on your site. Online, cloud-based, software like _____ and _____ can help you discover and fix your broken links but even if you check monthly, you may not catch them all before a user clicks the link. In cases like this, you should make the best of a bad situation.

Optimise your 404 error page

While you’re doing all you can to fix your links as they break, you may not catch them all before a user clicks. When internal links are broken, the user will be redirected to your sites 404 error page. You can reduce the frustration of your visitors when they hit your error page and make the most of a bad situation by providing links back to your most popular pages. Top this off with a ‘Contact Us’ form and you’ve basically turned your error page into an impromptu lead generation landing page. You’re welcome!

By Jen McKinnonJulia Hammond

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