You’re reading your favorite article or a blog, and you come to a link that the author wants you to click. Now, you’re hoping clicking the link will redirect you to another helpful webpage or website but you ended up on a ‘404 Error’ page. How does it make you feel?
Annoyed, frustrated, or even betrayed? These are some of the feelings when a user clicks on a broken link and gets the message “Sorry, page not found” instead of the promised information.
If you’re an owner of a blog, website, news site, or any other webpage that has SEO links embedded. It would be best if you were careful of the broken links because we don’t want people who visit your site to feel the same. Can you guess what happens will happen next? They would likely close down your site and go on a different website to find answers, which means that you’ve potentially lost a customer. Or worse, they have left a bad review in the comments.
Now, you might be wondering if they would come back to your website. Alas, this is very unlikely to happen. As reported that 88% of users or online customers never return to a site after having a bad experience. A broken link can be detrimental to a website, it not only damages the reputation of a brand, and you need to put up with the loss of a customer.
If you’ve deleted any media (including images, videos, and gifs) from the website, changed the URL of a product page, or even redesigned your website. Then, it’s likely that you have got a broken link, and you don’t even know it exists. Ask yourself, when was the last time you took out time to check if all of your links were working and were not broken?
Don’t panic or worry, as there are many solutions to finding a broken link and fixing it. We are going to talk about what is broken links in SEO and how you can find the broken links and correct them. So that whenever someone visits your website, they have a wonderful time.
What is a broken link in SEO?
Let’s start by understanding what a broken link in SEO is.
A dead or a broken link is a link that has a broken path. The link redirects you to either an error page or a missing page. There are many reasons to have a broken link.
Imagine you’re looking for a writing course on Google. You enter your query in the Google search field ‘best writing courses,’ and Google gives you many results to choose from. Now, you’re expecting that it will open a web page that offers a writing course when you click a link. Instead, you get a not found error message which means that the link is broken.
Let’s check out a few of the reasons the link must be broken:
- The common mistake is that there is a typo in the URL link
- Renaming the page name or moving it into a new path and forgetting to update internal links
- Changing the old domain name to a new name
- Moving the website to a new URL link
- Deleting any media content, including video, image, entire webpage, or a file
- Hyperlinking content to a media that has been moved or deleted
Broken links need to be fixed immediately, whatever the cause is because they’re a frustrating error. Moreover, broken links harm your website more than just having an annoyed customer.
How can broken links harm the website and SEO?
On the surface, a broken link may seem harmless. But the reality is that it can have great consequences for your website. It can affect your search engine rankings and the site’s user experience score. You can also lose revenue due to customers leaving your website for a better experience. Your brand and its reputation are at stake.
Every website has a user experience score. If the site is hard to navigate and has many irrelevant (nofollow) and broken links, then don’t act surprised if the customer moves to another site. They can also leave a bad review for prospects to skip your website.
The brand’s reputation and revenue are affected as well. You can spend months and years creating credibility and trust. However, if a potential customer finds multiple broken links, all the efforts are washed away. It’s less likely the customer will give you any personal detail or enter their credit card information to make a purchase.
SEO is the holy grail of getting your webpage the first ranking on Google. However, Google has said that having one or two broken links will not affect your site score and ranking. But, they still have an impact on the search results. Here’s how broken links can affect your search rankings and results.
A link is verified when a crawler scans the whole webpage and then categorizes it. What is a crawler? An SEO web crawler or a bot crawls the internet finding websites and learning about them. It can scan for content and links to deliver to relevant users searching a topic on the search engine.
When a crawler finds a broken link, it will take time to verify it as a broken link and then categorize it. So if you are paying for an SEO web crawler, then the time wasted on a broken link is also charged to you. Thus, affecting the results of your different web pages and links.
When users land on your broken webpage, they’ll leave the site within seconds. It counts towards your bounce rate, and having a high bounce rate is not good for the website. The reason is that search engines algorithms will think that the information provided on the page is not what the visitors are looking for, irrelevant information is present, or the webpage is a scam. This will result in lowering your site ranking, having a negative impact on your domain authority.
How to find and fix broken links?
Now you understand the impact that broken links can have on your online presence. Here are possible fixes that can help you find broken links and fix them.
There are many tools online that you can use to find broken links on your website. These are both free and paid tools that can help detect broken links.
Google Search Console
The best tool is GSC, a console developed by Google. The Google Search Console is amazing at finding pages on your websites that send an error back. You can use the GSC console to check for errors regularly, and if you find one, go ahead and fix it.
You can watch YouTube video tutorials on setting up a GSC and then use it to find broken links of any sites and more. It’s easy to use, and you don’t need to have advanced coding knowledge.
Use the crawl function ‘Crawl Errors -> Not Found’ to detect any page on your website with a 404 error message.
Dead Link Checker
Another tool is deadlinkchecker.com which checks broken links for free. You can enter a single website or multiple sites to check for the broken links. The tool works by scanning every link on the website, including images, scripts, and frames. If any links return an error, the tool will notify you with the error link.
Go to the website and in the search field enter the URL of the website and hit the check button. You can select between the complete website or a single page.
They also have an Auto Check feature which is the most popular service. It runs the dead link checker on a regular basis through the complete website. Then, it compiles all the errors and emails the report to the website owner.
Another free tool you can use to check for broken links is Xenu Link Sleuth. This tool is known to analyze all links on a website. In fact, it even reviews scripts, frames, and visuals for broken links. Open the tool, click File, then Check URL. Now just enter the URL you want to review for broken links. Make sure to uncheck the external links box if you want the tool to review links just on our site.
See the results? Now identify the reasons for the broken links and take steps to fix them. If you deleted an old webpage and replaced it with a new one or updated your URL structure, it will return a 404 error when people attempt a fix. What you can do is set up a 301 redirect, which informed visitors that the page has moved and doesn’t return a bad link.
Never wait to fix bad links. Because as each day passes with a bad link on your website, you potentially lose a visitor and a space in search engine result pages. So it’s best to act early and fix broken links at first sight. Use the tools mentioned in this article and you’ll find it easy to fix them.