We estimate that your link popularity accounts for about 40% of where you rank in Google. Consequently, it’s important to make sure they’re providing as much link juice for your website as possible. Having a steady stream of new incoming links is important. But what about all of those old links that have been around for a while? Are they as effective as they might be? Why not take a look at that, because fixing existing links is a lot easier than obtaining brand-new ones.

Here are a few things you can do by way of link maintenance to make sure that those old links are giving you as much link juice as possible.

If you’ve changed your domain name, all the links to your old domain name are doing you no good. The easiest thing to do is to arrange for a 301 permanent redirect from the old domain name to the new one. That should result in the links to the old domain name passing link juice to the new one. Unfortunately, they don’t pass 100% of their value.

Your best bet is to arrange for that redirect, but then contact the webmasters who link to your old website and asked him to change the links so they point to your new domain. That should bring the link values back up to 100%.

Sadly, we are dealing with a client today whose original domain name was owned by their previous web design company. They’ve had their website redesigned, and it’s now at a much better domain name. Unfortunately, their old web design company seems unwilling to arrange for a “redirect” from the old domain name to the new one. With no redirect possible, this client is getting no value from those old links until they get re-pointed to the new domain name.

Check your website analytics to find all links that are going to nonexistent pages on your website. Identify those links and contact those webmasters asking them to change the links so they point to real pages. If for any reason you’re unable to reach those webmasters, or if they’re unwilling to cooperate, then you need to arrange 301 permanent redirects  to real pages from whatever nonexistent pages they’re linking to so you can capture at least part of the link juice they pass.

Anytime you need to contact a webmaster who’s linking to you, take a look at the anchor text of their link. (The “anchor text” is the word or phrase you can click on to follow the link.) If it doesn’t contain a keyword phrase for the page that it points to, ask them to change what it says so that it does. Keyword rich links can be extremely powerful, as evidenced by our old article on “Google bombing“.

Links within your website count for your link popularity, too. It may not be as powerful as external links, but everything adds up to a positive result. Any pages you want to show up in search engine results should be linked from other pages on your own site effectively. Make sure that the navigation on your site is clear and easy to follow and that it includes any pages you’d like to see ranking in the search engines.