Link Rot Definition & Meaning

What Is Link Rot?

Link rot is a term used to describe a natural process of links becoming broken over time (or rotting) due to content being moved or deleted from websites. Terms such as dead links, link death, broken links, and link to nowhere are synonyms for link rot.

All websites with advanced backlink structures contain a certain percentage of rotten links. For example, according to a study released in 2021, 25% of links featured on the New York Times’ website between 1996 and 2019 are still on the website, even though they’re broken.

Besides deleted or relocated content, link rot can be caused by changes in the website’s server architecture, putting a product behind a paywall, or structural changes to the URL. Link rot is an inevitable issue with the evolving landscape of the web.

Updating the website’s internal links and monitoring the incoming links that lead to 404 pages are the best way to eliminate the negative effects of link rot. Broken links can be detected manually, but this process is time-consuming, which is why most SEO experts use CMS plugins and link checkers that discover link rot automatically.

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