They happen for various reasons, like typos in the web addresses or when a website is being moved or is down. Different error codes tell you what type of problem a broken link has.
If there are broken links within a website, it can make the site look bad and affect how it appears in search results.
To fix broken links, you can change where they go, correct them, or remove them. It’s important to regularly check and quickly fix these issues to make sure the website works well and is seen as trustworthy.
Having broken links on your website is a problem for people who visit your site and how well it appears on search engines. So, knowing how to repair these links to run a successful site is crucial.
In this article, I’ll explain why broken links are an issue and why it’s important to fix them. I’ll also share ways to find and fix broken links on your site without making it slower.
Understanding Broken Links
Think of broken links as digital roadblocks—hyperlinks that steer you in the wrong direction, failing to guide you to the intended webpage. These misleading links can pretend to be backlinks, internal website paths, or connections to other websites.
But they all hide similar reasons for their unexpected detours:
1. Misspelled URL
If you’ve made a typo or forgot to include “https://” or “http://” in the URL, the link won’t work. Small errors while typing can throw the link off track.
2. Updated URL
Imagine you had a page with a wrongly spelled URL and fixed it later. But if you didn’t set up a redirect beforehand, any links (backlinks or internal links) pointing to the old, incorrect URL will break.
This happens when you correct the URL but forget to redirect the old one. Also, if it’s a link to another website, they might have changed the URL of the content you linked to or deleted the page.
It’s like the web shifting its streets!
Other Common Causes of Broken Links:
- Lost Pages: In some cases, pages could be lost or renamed during a website migration, leading to broken links.
- Firewall or Geolocation Restrictions: Links might not be accessible to everyone and could be restricted to specific regions or countries.
- Moved Content: If the file you linked to, like a video or document, has been removed or relocated, your link to that content will break.
- The Site is Down: If your site or the site you’re linking to is down, all types of links connected to it won’t work.
- Change in URL Structure: If you’ve recently changed how your URLs are structured without setting up proper redirects, both internal and inbound links to these pages will break. It’s like rearranging roads without updating the GPS!
Types of Broken Links
When a link is broken, it sends back a 4xx status code, indicating a problem. There are distinct codes, each telling a different story:
- 404 Page Not Found: This is the most common error, indicating that the page isn’t available right now, but there’s a chance it might return in the future.
- 400 Bad Request: When you see this code, the server can’t comprehend the URL, often due to a mistake in how it is structured or formatted.
- 410 Gone: This error is similar to a 404, but it explicitly states that the page is gone for good and will not return.
All these errors, be it 404, 400, or 410, have a negative impact on user experience and SEO.
However, search engines particularly frown upon 410 errors because they signify that the content is permanently removed. It’s like a closed road with no plans of reopening.
The Hazards of Broken Links
Google highly values internal links, considering them a crucial factor for ranking. Taking care of them is of utmost importance.
When internal links are broken, they can create a chain reaction on your website. Users who click on a broken link end up on one of those frustrating error pages discussed earlier.
You’ve been there—it’s one of the worst experiences when browsing a site, right?
Unsurprisingly, this often leads them to leave your website in search of the information they initially sought. Naturally, you never want your site visitors to leave dissatisfied, but the implications could be more damaging than you realize.
A negative encounter might deter them from revisiting your site, tarnishing your reputation. It’s like a ripple effect of bad impressions.
Broken Links Are Bad for SEO and User Experience
Broken links cause problems for your website for a few important reasons. To start, they negatively impact the experience of the people visiting your site.
Imagine clicking on a link expecting interesting content, only to end at a dead end. This is frustrating for visitors, and it’s a strong reason to locate and repair broken links on your website.
But broken links annoy humans and frustrate automated systems like search engine crawlers, such as those used by Google.
Firstly, they waste the time and resources of these crawlers. Every time a Googlebot encounters a 404 error page due to a broken link, that’s a page they could have explored instead, thus squandering valuable crawling resources.
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In addition, broken links mean wasted potential for link benefits. For instance, if there’s a broken internal link within one blog post pointing to another, you’re missing out on the SEO advantage the link could have provided, which is detrimental to your SEO efforts.
How To Find Broken Internal Links
Imagine you’re like a website detective whose mission is to hunt down broken links. You can do it in two main ways: “hands-on” and “techy” ways.
First up, the “hands-on” way. Imagine you’re exploring a hidden treasure map (your website). You start by looking at every page on your website like a real explorer.
Check out all the links on each page: the ones in the menus, the sidebars, the footers, and everywhere a link could be hiding.
Then, you click on each link and see where it takes you. If it goes to the right place, awesome!
But you’ve spotted a broken link if it leads you to a dead end (a.k.a. another website or a weird error page).
Now, the “techy” way uses Google Chrome’s superpower tool called “Inspect.” It’s like having a fancy gadget that helps you scan for broken links.
You right-click on a page, choose “Inspect,” and a magic window opens. Click on the “Console” tab there, and when you refresh the page, it will show you if any links are misbehaving and can’t find their way (404 errors, to be exact).
Voila! A broken link was detected!
And here’s the cool part: even more advanced tools out there can do a lot of this detecting work for you. They’re like your trusty sidekicks!
You just let them loose on your website, and they’ll scan all the links for you, pointing out any that need fixing.
So, whether you’re a hands-on explorer or a tech-savvy detective, there are awesome ways to track down those broken links and keep your website running smoothly.
1. Google Analytics
This free tool tracks your website’s traffic. You can use it to identify pages on your site that generate 404 errors.
- Log into Google Analytics and navigate to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Organic Search.
- Export the list of pages and use Screaming Frog to crawl them.
- Analyze the errors by importing the pages directly from Google Analytics.
This method lets you prioritize fixing internal links based on pages that receive traffic on your site.
2. Google Search Console
Another free tool, Google Search Console, lets you track your website’s performance in Google search results. It can also highlight any 404 errors your website has encountered. Log in and go to Crawl > Crawl Errors to view these 404 errors.
Using these methods, you can efficiently identify and address broken links on your website, ensuring a smoother user experience.
How to Repair Broken Links Inside Your Website
Once you’ve found links on your site that don’t work, it’s crucial to fix them. Check out these effective ways to do it:
If the link leads to a moved page, you can create a new path so users go to the correct page. This way, visitors end up where they should, which keeps them happy and helps your website’s search engine ranking.
If there’s a mistake in the URL or the link goes to the wrong place, correct it so it goes to the right spot. This simple fix boosts your website’s search engine visibility and ensures visitors find the content they want.
Sometimes, it’s best to remove a broken link from your website. This is usually the right move if the linked page has been removed and is no longer around.
Removing broken links helps your website stay in good shape.
Encourage Users to Help Improve Your Website
While you can’t catch every broken link, you should strive to find most of them. Occasionally, some might slip through.
Broken links negatively impact the user experience. However, you can ask users who come across broken links on your site to let you know. This shows users that you’re committed to providing a user-friendly website.
A great way to facilitate this is by designing a custom 404 error page with a contact form. Alternatively, you can offer instructions on reporting a broken link, like providing an email address that users can contact.
Your users can play a valuable role in enhancing your website’s functionality.
Checking and Keeping Your Links in Good Shape
As mentioned earlier, broken links can seriously hurt your website. Therefore, it’s important to check for these problems regularly.
If you have a large website, checking daily might be a good idea. But for most cases, a weekly check should suffice.
It’s often enough to spot new broken links promptly and fix any problems before they negatively impact your rankings and user experience.
Regarding your backlinks, it’s essential to regularly assess their quality and confirm if they’re still active.
It’s Time to Find and Fix Broken Links on your Website!
Broken links are a big problem because they can make a website hard to use, bring down its SEO score, and make people doubt its reliability. For people in charge of a website, it’s super important to check for broken links often and fix them as soon as possible.
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