Google and other search engines number one goal is to provide the best results for their user’s searches. It is so important to Google that they deliver the highest quality content and best user experience, that they created an algorithm to help them accomplish this goal. The Panda algorithm was designed to prevent websites with poor quality content from being positioned in the top search results.
One factor that contributes to poor user experiences and low quality content are broken links and 404 error pages. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and the main objective of SEO experts is to optimize a site to make it easier for Google’s web crawlers (or other search engines) to search your site and understand who you are, what you do and if you are a solid source for relevant and trustworthy information. Google only reads links and HTML code so if the links within your site are broken, it may stop the search spiders from continuing to crawl your site and potentially not index it. If your site isn’t indexed, it will not show up in the search results.
Search engines look at internal links on your site and outbound links directing to your site to help determine if it is functioning correctly and if people use your site as a quality source for content. Search engines don’t necessarily punish sites because of broken links, but they do push sites down in ranking that don’t provide a great user experience, so broken links indirectly affect your ranking.
Fixing broken links can help your SEO value as well as create a better user experience. If you are concerned you may have broken links on your site, Benj Arriola, Vice President of SEO at IMI gives you a few examples of free and paid tools that will give you a breakdown of your site’s broken links.