Chill Out About Broken Backlinks, Says Google: Focus on User Experience

In the fast-paced world of SEO, staying on top of best practices can resemble navigating a labyrinth with ever-shifting walls. Recently, a question arose during a Google SEO Office Hours podcast: Should website owners fix every broken backlink pointing to their site?

Google’s Gary Ilyes offered a refreshingly practical response, a beacon of reassurance in the ever-changing world of SEO: prioritize fixing broken backlinks that enhance the user experience.

Here’s why this approach makes sense:

  • Focus on Quality, Not Quantity: Imagine you have a website dedicated to gourmet cupcakes. A broken backlink from a random blog about car repair will likely send you something other than relevant, targeted traffic. Instead, emphasize the importance of fixing backlinks from websites that naturally complement your content, like food blogs or local restaurant directories.
  • Prioritize User Experience: Broken backlinks can be a source of frustration for visitors, leading to dead ends in their user journey. Imagine the disappointment of clicking a link for a delicious cupcake recipe only to land on an error page. You can significantly improve the user experience by fixing these broken links, indirectly boosting your SEO.
  • Managing broken backlinks: This process can quickly snowball into a major undertaking, particularly for websites with extensive backlink profiles. However, you can effectively tackle this task by adopting a strategic approach and focusing on the backlinks that drive valuable traffic and enhance user experience.

How to Find Broken Backlinks Worth Fixing

There are various SEO tools available to help identify broken backlinks. However, a data-driven approach is only part of the story. Consider these additional factors:

  • Traffic Source: Look for broken backlinks from websites that already send you some traffic, even if minimal. These links likely point to relevant content and could attract a targeted audience.
  • Anchor Text: the clickable text used to link to your site, often referred to as link text, can act like a mini-billboard advertising the content it leads to. Analyzing the link text of broken backlinks can be a helpful clue to determine the content’s relevance to your website.

The Takeaway

While backlinks remain a vital SEO factor, Google’s advice is a welcome reminder to prioritize user experience. By fixing broken backlinks that provide value to your visitors, you can create a more positive user journey and potentially see indirect SEO benefits. Remember, quality over quantity is essential!