If you have an interest in SEO, or have ever spent more than a few minutes reading up on it you may have heard the name Matt Cutts mentioned. If not I guess you have now. Matt is probably known most for being the head of the Google Webspam team. He also answers assorted SEO related questions on the YouTube channel GoogleWebmasterHelp, which is worth a peek if you have never visited it.
He maintains a personal site/blog about various topics and challenges, but occasionally he will toss in an SEO related article, or reply to a comment with more clarification.
I think because of who he works for and the title he holds he probably gets a decent number of sites naturally linking to his blog.
If numbers matter to you at the time I wrote this (January 18th, 2014):
http://www.mattcutts.com/ = Google Pagerank 5
http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/ = Google Pagerank 6
Alexa Rank 5990
His main homepage is basically a very simple: Hello / About Me type of page with a link to his blog. It has a whopping 140 words in total along with two pictures.
I recently wrote an article titled:
Are Broken Links Really That Bad?
As a follow-up to that article I wanted to see how many broken links someone who works specifically with this kind of thing at Google might have on their own site. So what better website than Matt Cutts right?
I chose Matt Cutts because he is obviously well-known in the SEO community, and his site/blog has decent traffic and pagerank. I couldn’t tell you offhand what his site actually ranks for, but I assume that he must do well for at least some keywords/phrases.
I used Broken link checker to test his site, which only allows you to enter the top level/main domain for a free check. I put in http://www.mattcutts.com, and since this page links to his blog it easily checks it as well.
This bugger took a very long time. I am guessing because he gets a fairly large number of comments per post, and checking each and every one of those takes a while. It actually took so long that Broken Link Checker eventually gave up and told me: process terminated as it’s taking too long.
One thing to note is that his comment links are definitely nofollow, which is what the vast majority of his broken, dead, or non-existent links are associated with.
How many broken links does his website have? Drumroll please…1379 broken links after scanning 838 pages. He could have more than that since the checker gave up after taking too long. Those include 404, 500, timeout, and bad host errors.
So here we have a site that has very solid traffic and Google Pagerank with a fair amount of broken links (mostly broken comment links). Either they don’t seem to affect his site that much if any, or broken nofollow comment links have little or no impact. I highly doubt if he cleaned these up that he would see a spike in rankings or a PR7 any time soon. I am guessing that since he works for Google specifically with this kind of thing he would be more concerned about fixing them if they did play a significant role. Then again, maybe one of the perks of his job is he gets immunity from a broken link penalty (if they exist)! Or, removing them would have such a minor effect that it wouldn’t be worth the time to do so.
Now I am not saying that you shouldn’t fix broken or dead links on your site. By all means please do so if you have time. It’s a much better user/visitor experience when they actually work and lead to somewhere useful. Just don’t lose any sleep over them, or spend hours upon end fixing them because you probably won’t see a significant change if any at all.