Is Your Firm Suffering From Digital Decay?

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By Omnizant Team
Law Firm Marketing Agency

The Internet is literally held together by links. When this network of chains connecting one page to another page starts to fade away, established firms feel the brunt of the loss.

If your firm has had a site online for quite a few years, you’ve likely accrued some good back links and, as a result, enjoy a few powerful advantages such as organic SEO dominance.  However, with age comes additional risk—and older firms are far more vulnerable to digital decay and the resulting decline in credibility. 

Here’s a top-level explanation of the recent studies on digital decay, how digital decay impacts law firms (especially older firms), and how firms can fight digital decay.

What is digital decay?

Digital decay refers to the gradual deterioration or loss of online content, particularly manifested through broken or inaccessible links over time.

Basically, it’s link rot where links slowly become inaccessible over time. 

A whopping 25% of all web pages that existed between 2013 and 2023 are no longer accessible, according to Pew Research. In some cases, individual pages were deleted but in other cases, entire websites went defunct.

Here are a few top reasons for link loss, according to Ahrefs:

  • Link was dropped (47.7%)
  • Link removed (34.2%)
  • Crawl error (6.45%)
  • 301/302 (5.99%)
  • Not found (4.11%)
  • Not canonical (0.82%)
  • Noindex (0.73%)
  • Broken redirect (0%)

Older sites are especially susceptible to digital decay, with a more significant portion of links no longer functional. Pew states that about 38% of web pages that existed in 2013 are not available today.

It goes beyond websites—social media platforms also experience digital decay. 30% of social media links were dead within two years, according to one study.

Digital decay can result in the loss of backlinks to your law firm’s website which can impact your SEO. It can also mean that links on your site are no longer valid, impacting your site health and your online credibility and reliability when sharing content.

Implications of digital decay for lawyer websites

If you’re part of an established law firm, digital decay may be affecting your online presence.

Firms at least five years old but especially 10+ years old, read closely!

Digital decay could be:

  • Negatively impacting user experience
  • Hindering your SEO efforts
  • Rendering reference links incorrect 

Legal journals and citations are not immune. One study found that a significant portion of links within legal journals (70%) and U.S. Supreme Court decisions (50%) no longer lead to the intended material.

Linking to government web pages? A considerable percentage of news and government web pages contain broken links, compromising the integrity of referenced information—and your reputation. According to Pew Research, 21% of government websites contain at least one broken link.

Your website may include links to sites that have since been bought and transformed for completely different uses, possibly nefarious or illegal.

When was the last time you audited your links or checked your website’s health? How often do visitors encounter 404s on your website

Actions to fight digital decay

Ask your webmaster (or reach out to us!) to help you take proper action to preserve and assess your digital content.

  1. Link audit: Regularly check the health of your links. Fix broken links from your site pointing to others, prioritizing those frequently clicked.
  2. Link reclamation: Redirect old URLs to current pages to reclaim lost value. Use tools like Ahrefs to identify broken links and reach out to site owners with replacements. This not only strengthens your website but also refreshes old relationships.
  3. Review social media presence: Ensure links shared on social platforms remain valid. Regularly check and update where necessary.

Don’t let digital decay undermine your firm’s online credibility. Stay proactive in maintaining your digital presence to ensure accessibility and reliability for your clients and prospects.

Review and next steps

There’s a lot at stake with your website, and it’s important to ensure that your older content is just as stable as your newer content. Digital decay is a serious challenge for established firms.

Building a cohesive, effective digital presence can make or break your firm’s success. Book a consultation with Omnizant to learn more about improving your firm’s appearance and effectiveness online.

About the Author
Since 2006, Omnizant's team of digital marketing experts, designers, developers and writers has helped over 2,000 law firms develop powerful websites that drive business growth.
Posted in SEO