Broken Links, Pages, Images and 404s Hurt SEO and Affect Google Rankings

5 Flares Filament.io Made with Flare More Info'> 5 Flares ×

Google clearly wants to send its web searchers to high-quality websites.  Does that mean that it penalize your website if you have broken links?  Do 404 errors cause you to lose rankings?  Should your SEO (search engine optimization) plan include fixing things like bad links, broken images and 404 err0rs?

broken heartAbsolutely!

404 Errors and broken/pages links clearly cause you rankings to suffer… at least based on what I have seen!

I recently setup keyword tracking for a new client and tracked 286 keyword phrases.  I immediately spent hours fixing broken links, which included:

  • Removing or fixing over 1000 broken images
  • Setting up about 100 301 redirects
  • Fixing several dozen broken internal links within the site

What tools did I use?

  • Google Webmaster Tools were what I used to find external links pointing to pages that no longer existed and were generating 404 errors… I fixed those with 301 redirects (see my WordPress Go-Live Checklist to see what tool I use)
  • Screaming Frog SEO Spider is what I used to discover all the broken images and broken links within the website.

What were the results?

Within one week, from the 286 phrase I tracked, the website moved up 1713 spots.  That means, on average, each keyword phrase moved up 6 spots in the search results!!  And, it happened immediately! Here is a screenshot from my software:

404 errors and seo

One thing is unclear… WHY did broken images, bad links and 404 errors hurt this site?  Was it because Google actually penalized them?? (or filtered them negatively as the case may be?).  Was it because they were leaking page-rank or page juice? I don’t know!  What I do know it it works.

I know something else too: During the last week we have captured hundreds of additional visitors who were landing on 404 pages when they entered the site.  Additionally, when people surf through the site, they are also having an improved experience.

If you want to find out more… there is some discussion and debate out there on the issue… many of these experts say that these errors don’t hurt your SEO!  Obviously, my small case study above would seem to indicate otherwise.

 

 

 

 

Trent Blizzard
Trent Blizzard
I am the owner and operator of BlizzardPress. My interests include WordPress, Google Analytics, SEO and more.
Recent Posts
Showing 18 comments
  • Stefan
    Reply

    Hello Trent,

    Thanks for confirming what i was thinking about. But, I have question. I have website with millions of pages, and it was very well in google, hitting 60 000 unique visitors per day, all from Google.
    What happen is that developer made a bug by adding characters in url like slash and other, and that created like x3 x4 more pages some was with same content, other 404.

    My question, is what to do with duplicate pages ? I cannonical, but seems not helping. Also, what to do with high number of 404 pages. I am talking about xxx, xxx pages.

    Peace,

    • Trent Blizzard
      Reply

      Stefan, that sounds like a big problem… probably too big to analyze and answer in a blog reply! But, here goes:I would not only canonical duplicate pages… I would actually remove them completely if I could. with 404s, get busy with redirects! xxx,xxx redirects!

  • Kroliki
    Reply

    How do you actually use Screaming frog to discover internal broken links?

  • Cliff
    Reply

    Is it better to do specific 301s to get users to the page they should be in, or will a blanket homepage still handle the damage? In terms of UX, the page should be what a user expects, but in the event of thousands of 404s, would a homepage redirect be penalized for having little relevant content?

    • Trent Blizzard
      Reply

      Cliff, I do specific 301s to get users to the page. I guess I would rather let them land on a 404 page then blanket redirect into the homepage. You could always make your 404 page more like your homepage to help people that land there find their content. Nonetheless, nothing beats a 301 page for guiding real people to the content they want and showing Google you take it seriously.

  • Brandson Brian.S
    Reply

    Yes, Broken links damage SEO Especially in Google. have a site ranks first in Yahoo, Bing and other search engines but in Google, it doesnt rank anywhere. The domain had all the keywords for the domain to rank but it was not. Until i fixed over 2,ooo external broken links

  • seo-guru
    Reply

    There is a new tool to check internal pagerank http://www.localizely.com/ , you just need to submit your website and they will send you a table of all your ranking through email. (even with list of broken urls)

    • Trent Blizzard
      Reply

      SEO-guru — thanks for sharing… but, I tried out this service. NAAAAH I say! It sent me a small report and asked me to pay $10 for the full report. I don’t want to pay $10 for this… and couldn’t really recommend it to anyone.

pingbacks / trackbacks
  • […] will improve your overall search engine ranking. I have found that for every person out there backing this claim up with hard evidence, there are thousands of people who state with conviction that fixing broken links will give you an […]

  • […] will improve your overall search engine ranking. I have found that for every person out there backing this claim up with hard evidence, there are thousands of people who state with conviction that fixing broken links will give you an […]

  • […] Broken Links, Pages, Images Hurt SEO – Three Easy Ways To Fix Broken Links And Stop Unnecessary Visitor Loss – 55 Ways To Use Screaming […]

  • […] Broken Links, Pages, Images Hurt SEO – Three Easy Ways To Fix Broken Links And Stop Unnecessary Visitor Loss – 55 Ways To Use Screaming […]

  • […] – Broken Links, Pages, Images Hurt SEO – Three Easy Ways To Fix Broken Links And Stop Unnecessary Visitor Loss – 55 Ways To Use Screaming Frog – Robots.txt Tutorial […]

  • […] Broken Links, Pages, Images Hurt SEO – Three Easy Ways To Fix Broken Links And Stop Unnecessary Visitor Loss – 55 Ways To […]

  • […] means it is vital to make sure that your site returns no 404 errors as this can adversely  affect your site’s rankings. In addition, it will also frustrate  users when they constantly find 404 pages in your website […]

  • […] that all of your links work, since broken links will annoy your visitors and harm your SEO efforts. There are countless free and paid tools online that can scan your website for any links that no […]

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search

5 Flares Twitter 1 Facebook 1 Google+ 0 Pin It Share 1 LinkedIn 2 Filament.io 5 Flares ×

Let's Talk

We'd Love to
Hear From You!

 

970-930-1882

contact BlizzardPress