Broken links are not your website’s allies. They’re detrimental to SEO and, more crucially, to the user experience. While managing a small website may be relatively straightforward, the challenges grow as your site expands. Whether due to oversight or the occasional manual error, broken links tend to sneak their way in.
Stay vigilant against broken links by having a proactive strategy in place, backed by the right tools for timely fixes.
In this comprehensive guide, we will talk in detail about broken links, causes and solutions. Identify them on time, apply necessary fixes, test and rank better.
How broken links get created on the website
Broken links are often created by manual error, website or system upgrades without proper checks and balances.
- Page removal: This is when the page is deleted while the link is still active.
- Relocated page: This is when the original page has been moved to another address while the original one is left empty (technically also deleted).
- Typographical errors: Nothing but a simple mistake when typing in the hyperlink or coding the URL.
- External resource changes/link rot: If you are linking to another website that happens to have gone through some changes where they redefined their content or even removed it, the links can become broken. The same can be the case on your own website.
How to check and detect broken links?
If you click on a link that goes to a “404 Page Not Found”, means the link is broken and the page doesn’t exist.
Whether you have a smaller website or a large website, it is highly recommended that you use tools to find broken links and fix them.
If you have a website with fewer pages then you may manually check each page but this process is not efficient and you may miss some links to check hence you should use tools to check broken links.
There are many free and paid tools available to check broken links. Most of the SEO tools come with broken link-checking features.
Here are some tools which you can use to check broken links:
If you are a business owner who needs help getting this checked and fixed then work with a reliable SEO company that can help you keep your website in a healthy condition.
How do broken links impact SEO?
Traditionally, when the internet and webpage concept was introduced, it was a collection of pages internally linked together and that is the case to date.
Importantly, SEO has no existence without internal links or links. When you have broken links in your website then it will impact your overall SEO performance.
Broken links lead to poor user experience and hence it impacts SEO.
Understanding broken links & SEO technically
Broken links are not a friend of SEO, meaning in simple words they impact crawling, indexing and ranking.
Crawlability issues: Page indexing is crucial for SEO, and if your website has broken links, Google bots (or any other search engine’s bots) may struggle to navigate through the website, which results in poor indexing.
Page ranking: SEO ranking is directly associated with the user’s experience and broken links do not provide a good user experience.
Internal broken link SEO impact
Internal broken links on a website can have significant SEO consequences. When users encounter internal broken links, their user experience is disrupted, potentially leading to higher bounce rates and reduced engagement.
Search engines like Google, which value user experience, may negatively rate sites with a high volume of broken internal links.
Additionally, these broken links can hinder search engine crawlers from indexing your site properly, affecting your site’s overall visibility in search results. It’s crucial to regularly audit and fix internal broken links to maintain a seamless user experience and improve your website’s SEO performance.
Broken links are missed SEO opportunities, you can easily fix them and take advantage of internal link strategies.
External broken link SEO impact
External broken links can also impact your website’s SEO. When your site contains links to external pages that are broken or no longer exist, it impacts user trust. Users may perceive your website as outdated or unreliable, resulting in higher bounce rates.
Importantly, when someone links to your page and that page is broken then this is worst of all. You just missed a very powerful SEO signal that is backlink.
To mitigate this impact, regularly review your external links, both your website linking to other sites and other sites linking to you. Ensuring that they remain active and relevant, ultimately enhancing your user experience and SEO standing.
How to fix broken links to rank better?
As discussed above, both internal and external broken links impact SEO it is important to know how to fix them to your SEO advantage.
Fixing internal broken links to rank better
First, you make a list of internal broken links go to each page read the context and replace those links with related similar other links.
This will also give you an opportunity to assess the anchor text of your links and optimise them to boost your overall ranking.
Fixing external broken links to rank higher
When someone links your page and you remove that page without realising, this is the worst thing that can happen to your SEO campaign as noted above.
Now, reaching out to third-party site owners is not an easy job to ask to check the link so here are a few things you can do.
- Redirect (301 permanent redirect) your broken link page to a relevant new page.
- A direct link to a page is preferred instead of a 301 redirect so in some cases if you feel you can get it changed then feel free to reach out and get your links changed on a third-party site.
How to prevent broken link issues?
You can run scans on a regular basis to check if there are any broken links.
The best line of defence is to automate this process, meaning you can sign up for paid SEO tools that can check broken links and report to you if they find any broken links.
You can also check the Google Search Console report which is free.