Ahrefs: What can explain the research that proves half of website links are broken?

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For a website to be functional, it needs links that are up and running and ready to be accessed by customers who are looking for a particular type of content.

Inactive links, or as they are commonly known: “broken” links can be a big problem for SEO, as they redirect the user to a non-existing page and end up harming that person’s experience.

When you're looking for some kind of content, and you only find broken links or non-existing pages, it can be very frustrating. And this process is more common than it seems.

According to recent research, more than 80% of the websites that exist in the world are inactive, which makes this type of search very common and can cause problems in your content production.

One of the main responsibilities of a webmaster is to keep all issues regarding a website up and running, even verifying that all pages are working.

However, in many cases the broken pages refer to external links, which have been placed throughout the text to serve as a reference in the explanation being presented.

In this case, because it is not an internal link of the site in question, there is a possibility that it will be overlooked by the page administrator, and hardly a writer will remember all the links inserted in each content he has already made.

Ahrefs, a company specializing in the internet, did a recent study on the number of links that broke in recent years, understanding the main reasons for this to happen.

Although some companies look for technological solutions to compensate for this type of problem, such as the use in internal processes, others are not yet ready to make this type of change.

Ahrefs software is very popular particularly for SEO optimization (Search Engine Optimization) companies. It has tools for a number of elements, such as:

  • Website auditing;
  • Link Building;
  • Competitive analysis;
  • Keyword research.

In the analyzes carried out by the tool, a significant number of links have broken in recent years, in addition to others that have temporary errors or that prevent the user from accessing the content.

At the same time that this type of situation compromises the quality of consumption that the user is looking for, it also interferes with the search engine algorithms, which identify problems and decrease the ranking of websites.

Why are the links breaking?

In order to understand this phenomenon that is happening with the internet, Ahrefs managed to find some information after intense research, which for years evaluated how the internet has adapted.

Typically, some errors are more common than others, with page crashing being the most frequent. A page crashes when it can no longer be indexed or crawled by search algorithms.

This usually happens when the page ceases to exist or the domain is terminated, and represents 47.7% of the pages that are actively broken, which is a very expressive number.

The second most frequent result, with 34.2% of cases, is the removed link. In this case, the page continues to exist, but is no longer linked to the link location, causing a problem in accessing information.

On the other hand, this type of situation can happen when the original website owner no longer wants the link content to be shared, either to their website or to the entire internet.

Crawl errors can also happen when a search engine tries to access a web page and is unable to. Typically, this type of issue is rarer, making up 6,45% of the cases.

Crawl errors are often resolved on their own, when algorithms are able to re-find pages. However, if this type of situation keeps happening, the link may break.

Redirection is a fairly common process, and it typically happens when a company migrates its website to another provider. However, you need to keep track of the links to see if they all migrated correctly.

If a page is not targeted correctly, the broken page status remains. This is very common on large sites, which migrate a large volume of content and can often end up missing something.

Pages not found are pages that have been deleted by the site owner. In this case, if a new redirect is performed using the link, it will not be displayed correctly.

This is very common among websites and blogs that often update content, since these changes are fluid and not always content should remain in the same space for a long time.

This type of problem represents 4,11% of cases, according to Ahrefs research, and the solution to it is for a company to constantly update its links and communication structures.

The other two common reasons for broken links are non-canonical links, which account for 0.82% of cases, and non-indexed links, which account for 0.73%.

The former are not something of immediate concern in a company dealing with this type of situation.

When a page is marked as non-canonical in a report, it often means that the page has moved, which in many cases is a result of security updates and other elements.

Therefore, normally a page that appears to be non-canonical is usually resolved quickly, not having a negative impact on the company.

Pages marked as not indexed are those that Ahrefs considers to be lost. That doesn't mean they can't be found anyway, since they exist.

The absence of indexing is simply a process that removes the page from search engine databases, making access difficult. This can happen by some mistake or even by the company's desire.

An internal command page or even a landing page de can be removed from crawlers so that only people browsing the company's website can find it.

Avoiding inactive links

Once you identify the most important elements of the Ahrefs survey, you will have a much better framework for identifying what can be done to improve this type of concept in your company.

At a first point, the SEO audit is an important activity, which will help to identify a series of issues regarding the production of your company, and which can help you identify what you should optimize.

Within the audit, it is possible to identify failures in broken links and proceed with the regularization, facilitating this process. Normally, this type of action is carried out quarterly, but it is possible to do it once a semester.

Once you've identified the links that have problems, it's important that you start to organize them. This can be done by redirecting and replacing links, adapting your content.

You can target content to new material, or even material that is similar in terms of what is being presented in that type of content as a whole.

Every dead link increases your SEO problem, so it is important that you optimize this type of process as soon as possible.

When you find inactive links that cannot be redirected, you get an excellent opportunity to perform link exchange and even increase your networking.

That's because some tools check for broken links in external sources, and allow you to contact the sources offering new partnership opportunities and link exchanges.

Final considerations

Ahrefs research helps you better understand the needs that most websites have to update themselves and eliminate traces of broken links, thus optimizing your SEO strategies.

The more you adapt to this information, the more effectively your company will move towards a more assertive communication structure over the internet.