Broken links can quickly become a headache for larger practice websites. Here are three ways to manage the issue:
1. Create clear linking policies up-front
As much as possible, with external links, link only to large, reputable organization websites, which are less likely to disappear, make sudden URL changes, or fail to offer redirects after a redesign. These are also more likely to provide reliable, reputable content to your site visitors.
In addition, minimize links to potentially “volatile” content, on your own site or on others. In many cases, syndicated content from news feeds or blogs will have links that change or disappear over time. Such content may not have the more permanent value it should to justify linking within your content in the first place.
2. Change your focus from “access” to “behavior”
While links are the very basis of a website, too much linking encourages free-form exploration and risks distracting users. Links to some additional information for further reference can be helpful, but your main linking strategy should focus on the behaviors that best match your business goals.
While context can make a difference, a good rule of thumb is that no more than 25% of links on a page link to supporting information. The remaining links should focus on goals such as patient acquisition, user conversion, treatment or condition management, and similar behaviors that bring value from your online marketing strategy.
3. Use a third-party quality management tool
Several viable link-checking and quality management tools are available on the market. These run regular reports, as often as daily, on broken links on your site. For larger groups with deep patient engagement material, this automated check of what can be thousands of pages makes an enormous difference.
At first, these reports will likely generate a large number of links to remove or update, so you should plan to dedicate resources to link repair for a short period after you begin your cleanup efforts. After that initial effort, the task can easily be folded into the daily workflow of someone on your content team, either internally or with a vendor.
Adopt these three practices as a reliable cure for the link management headache.