Beware of Link Rot

You’ve more than likely heard the belief that once something is posted to the Internet, it’s there forever. This may be true, but it is also a major mistake for the powers that be at any brand or business to assume that once a website is built, it can take care of itself. Websites that go untended and neglected are at risk of what is known as “link rot.” What is link rot, and why is it a concern?

In a recent article for The Verge, Mitchell Clark referenced a report from Gawker of how many photographs from websites ranging from Gizmodo to The Onion have been removed. These are examples of “link rot,” wherein content on the Internet either disappears or necessary elements go missing for one reason or another. Even links to specific pages in digital articles of The New York Times have been lost to link rot.

Mr. Clark goes on to say that link rot is nothing new, and that other instances can be found nearly anywhere online when a website has not been checked, maintained, or updated on a routine basis.

With this in mind, if you own a brand or business, consider these questions as a checklist for maintaining your website—and how it can avoid being affected by link rot.

  • How long should you keep old content active?
  • Do you periodically rewrite content so that there is SEO value for current audiences and trends?
  • Is there anyone at your business who catalogs past and current content—almost like a librarian for your website?
  • Is there anyone at your business who regularly scans for broken internal resource links or outbound links to make sure they are still active?
  • Do you put redirects in place, and if so, how long do you keep them up?
  • Will keeping old images and video stored on your server consume enough resources that it is making you pay more for hosting?
  • Is the old content/code a security vulnerability that can be exploited by hackers?
  • Is there any liability for past content that has been archived by a third-party and still available for viewing—like the Wayback Machine? (Be aware that any third-party website is not in your control, which is further incentive to be responsible for keeping everything up to date, and a record of past content, as mentioned above.)

If you need help addressing these and other web-related questions, reach out to EGC. We have created and overseen many types of websites—ranging from B2B to corporate to e-commerce. We can help keep your web presence fresh and relevant, which will keep your business strong.