Google ‘Design & Content Guidelines’: Part 7

This week, we will be continuing our discussion of ‘Google’s Design and Content Guidelines,’ looking at the importance of fixing broken links and correcting HTML errors.

Google Design and Content Guideline #7: “Check for broken links and correct HTML.”

Following our recurring theme of search engine optimization, broken links and incorrect HTML could have a negative impact on your website’s performance in search engines, the user experience, your image and your bottom line.

Consider Search Engines: Broken links within your site (internal links) prevent search engines from finding and indexing all of your web pages.  The inability of search engine bots to find your web pages and index them can negatively affect your website ranking.

Consider Users: If your website has broken links, links that do not lead anywhere, your visitor’s will not be able to find all of your web pages, oftentimes causing them to abandon your website in frustration.

Consider Image:  In addition to causing frustration, broken links will hurt the usefulness and professionalism of your website and business image.  They may even cause visitors to question your credibility.

Consider The Bottom Line: Broken links to landing, product and/or service pages can cost you time and money.  Imagine investing in a SEO or Pay-Per-Click campaign, all the while sending prospects to a non-existent page.  Or worse, your prospect has hand on wallet and is ready to make a purchase:  The only problem?  Your checkout link is broken.  Ouch!

Common Causes of Broken Links:
• You rename a page(s) and forget to change your internal links
• Another website links to an old or relocated page
• A search engine continues to rank a deleted page
• Someone has bookmarked a deleted or moved page
• Someone links to your page but misspells the link URL

You have little control over how external links (other websites/bookmarks) are managed and created.  But you do have control over your internal links.

Check Links Periodically:
Links can be checked either manually or by using software.  Manual checks involve clicking through all the links on your website and making sure that they load properly. 

You can also use software such as The W3C Link Checker and Xenu Link Sleuth to check links on larger websites.

Ensure HTML is Correct:
Although HTML can have errors, it may still appear to load normally in a browser.  Ensuring that your HTML is correct has a few benefits that make it worth the extra effort. 

For example, correct HTML allows search engine bots to find and index all your web pages.  HTML that is error-free also loads faster than incorrect HTML, leading to a better experience for your visitors.  Finally, correct HTML ensures that your website will load correctly on all browsers, now and in the future.

In order to check if your HTML is correct, you can use The W3C Markup Validation Service.

Happy Linking!

Writing Web Words Inc:
Based in Toronto, Ontario, we are a full service Web Writing and Content Development Company that helps small and mid-sized companies maximize their online potential via Search Engine Optimization (SEO), SEO Copywriting and Social Media Marketing.