"My site had a severe case of link rot and yours may too!"
Have you ever run a link checking program on your website?No, not one of those quickie link checks, but a "full site"link check?
What you learn about your website may disturb you. Ithappened to me this week. As owner of a fairly large websitethat has been online about four years, I realized I may havehad a number of dead links. I just had no idea how many.Sure, I'd been averaging a few "dead-link complaints" everymonth lately, but I always thought I ran a pretty tightship.
I thought wrong. I finally ran a full site link check andfound that my site had a severe case of link rot!
While my internal links (links within my own site from onepage to another) were pretty good with just two dead links,get this... THIRTY external links had rotted away without meknowing it! Shame on me. Not only does this portray a badimage, it can cause other problems as well.
For starters, bad links send visitors scurrying away fromyour site. Additionally, search engines tend to favor sitesWITHOUT link problems and give higher ranking to sites whokeep up on their link maintenance.
So what about your site? You probably have dead links onyour site right now too, and you are not alone. Studies showthat on average, one out of every 15 links on the Web is notfunctioning. If your site is that bad, you're in trouble.Heck, if one out of every 20 links on your site is deadthere's a good chance that EVERY visitor to your site willfind a dead link. Think about that for a minute. Are youwilling to risk losing every visitor to your website? Ithought not.
The solution is to periodically and systematically check forlink rot, especially if your site contains links to otherweb sites. Take time and do it today! I researched someprograms this week that you can simply turn loose before yougo to bed and you'll wake up with a fresh list of bum linksto fix. Here they are...
Web-Based Link Checking:
Most of these allow a small sampling of their service on alimited number of web pages. If you have a very small site,these are great. Just visit one of these URL's and run aquick and free check.
Software solutions are ideal for larger sites allowing youto perform the link checks through your own computer. Itried a number of programs this week and ended up settlingon InfoLink Link Checker by http://www.biggbyte.com/ - itgives you 50 full uses of the program before you have to paya dime. If you plan to use it beyond that you can registerit for a small fee.
Some other software programs that will run link checks atyour site are:
One more tip I recommend is to add a customized error pageto your site. No matter how well you maintain your internallinks, there will always be surfers who enter a URLincorrectly and get the dreaded 404 error page. You can keepyour visitors from getting that ugly error message by simplycreating a customized error page.
In a nutshell, it is the same as creating any other webpage. Just create a page that tells your visitors they are alittle lost and invite them to click a link to your homepage. For an example of an effective custom error page, goto this bogus web page at my website:
As far as the technical aspects of making it work, it issimple. Just create a web page then contact your web hostand they'll tell you exactly how make it work on yourserver.
If you need some ideas for a 404 error page of your own,check out: http://www.cool404.com - each time you reload thepage a new customized 404 page will pop up.
Remember, dead links are a bigger deal than you may bemaking them out to be. They will compromise your websitevisitors' experience severely. Visitors may even click awayfrom your site never to return. Take your websitemaintenance seriously if you want your site to be takenseriously!