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Broken links are more than just an annoyance for your website visitors. They actually cost you in lost traffic, lower search rankings, and damaged credibility. When a user clicks on a link that returns a 404 error, they are immediately frustrated and unlikely to continue exploring your site. If they came from a search engine, they will probably just click the back button and try another result instead of your page.
A study by Internet Retailer found that just 3 broken links caused a 9% loss in potential customers. That adds up to major revenue losses, especially for ecommerce sites. Broken links also hurt your search engine optimization. Google considers 404 errors when evaluating page quality and crawlability. Too many dead links could get your whole site penalized or banned from search results.
Outdated or broken links also communicate that your website lacks attention and isn't a reliable resource. First impressions matter, so greeting new visitors with error messages makes your brand seem unreliable or outdated. Users will question whether you really know your industry if you have sloppy, neglected content.
Moz did an experiment where they redirected random links on their site to 404 pages. They saw traffic decrease by 2.2% overall. But the impact was even bigger for referral traffic and repeat visitors. Returning users dropped by 4.4%. Losing repeat visitors limits potential for turning one-time shoppers into loyal customers.
To avoid these costly consequences, you need to regularly audit links and fix any broken ones immediately. Check especially thoroughly on older content, as that is more likely to have outdated links. Review both internal links between your own pages as well as external links leading out to other sites. You can use tools like Xenu, ScreamingFrog, or Ahrefs to crawl your site and identify dead links automatically. Then redirect or update any broken pages.
Having optimized metadata is crucial for getting your pages to rank in search engines like Google. Metadata refers to code elements like title tags, meta descriptions, alt text, and more. This data is what search engine bots analyze to understand your content and determine relevancy for keywords. Pages with sparse or missing metadata can get lost in the mix and never gain visibility.
Title tags are one of the most important elements. The title tag appears as the clickable headline for your listing in SERPs. A descriptive, keyword-rich title will grab attention and convey what the page is about. Pages without unique title tags often end up with autogenerated titles that just display the URL. Those types of titles have no keywords and don"t entice clicks at all.
Another vital tag is the meta description, which is the site snippet under each result. The meta description summarizes page content in an appealing way. Well-written snippets can boost CTR by generating interest. But pages without custom meta descriptions just show snippets from the page text instead. These automatic snippets are usually not engaging or representative of the content.
Alt text provides a description for images. Besides being useful for accessibility, alt text also gives additional keywords and context for search bots. Images without alt text are invisible to Google. So you lose out on all that potential search visibility.
Other metadata like H1 tags, schema markup, sitemaps, and more also provide search engines with signals about your pages. Proper optimization requires ensuring all metadata elements are filled out completely. You can identify pages with missing metadata using SEO crawlers like Screaming Frog. Then go in and add optimized titles, descriptions, alt text, etc. Re-crawling will confirm the issues are resolved.