When Links Are Dead But Not Forgotten

Five years ago, in June of 2002, I was helping announce and build links for Home Depot’s Online Kitchen & Bath Design Center. Have a look at the announcement I ran on my URLwire site here. Notice that the URL Home Depot used for the design center was http://www.homedepot.com/designcenter/. I love nice short clean URLs like this. It makes link building and publicity seeking easier. Unfortunately, the fine folks at Home Depot decided to make changes to how they delivered their content, and the way they did it blew away all of the excellent link equity the site has built up over the years.

That’s why if you try to visit that link now, you get an ugly and unfriendly page that says:

“We’re sorry, we are unable to complete your request. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

This was a classic case of Home Depot ignoring the link equity they had built over the years. Why did they bother hiring me to generate publicity and links for their content, if all they were going to do was ruin all of it by making changes to their URLs that rendered all existing inbound links dead? They probably had no intention of doing this. It wasn’t on purpose. It was likely a decision made by one department (I.T.) without realizing the impact it would have on another department (Marketing). Still, it’s a shame, and look at all the nice links and publicity I obtained and they then wasted, like this article from CBS Marketwatch that pointed to their now long dead URL. Talk about wasted link equity…

Recently I was reading through my year end server stats, and I noticed that same Home Depot announcement from June of 2002 was read 26,953 times this year. That’s pretty amazing. A five year old site announcement that contains obsolete URLs is still generating thousands and thousands of page views all these years later. My contacts at Home Depot are long gone, so there isn’t much I can do to help them repurpose these links for the homedepot.com web site, but that doesn’t mean I can’t put the page that’s generating those 25,000+ page views to work for someone. Someone like me. And that’s why if you take another look at that page, you’ll see I did in fact repurpose it to help my EricWard.com site and services. See that link at the very top where it says:

EricWard.com – Because What Good is Great Content if Nobody Sees it?

That’s a new link I added recently after realizing those 25,000 readers from the past 12 months might just be a source of new revenue for me. Home Depot may be able to afford to blow off thousands of links, but that doesn’t mean they have no use at all. The question this all leads up to is this: Are you maximizing the linking outcomes and potentials of all your site’s pages? For those of you who speak the language of PageRank, are you funneling page rank as well as you could be? Remember the Link Week column I wrote titled Are You In The Circle Of Link Trust?

It’s worth repeating one of the points from that column

In the course of seeking new links and publicity for new content on an existing site, don’t ignore your already trustworthy content as a driver of reputation for the new content. If you are in the enviable position of already having high rankings, if you’re in the circle of link trust, leverage it.

In like manner, leverage the links you already have, and remember that just because some links die, they don’t have to be forgotten.

Eric Ward has been in the link building and content publicity game since 1994, providing services ranking from linking strategy to a monthly private newsletters on linking for subscribers. The Link Week column appears on Mondays at Search Engine Land.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Link Building: General | Link Week Column


About The Author: has been creating linking strategies for clients since 1994. Eric publishes the strategic linking advice newsletter LinkMoses Private, and provides linking services, training and consulting via EricWard.com.

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