broken links and how to fix them

What are Broken Links? And How Do You Find and Fix Them?

By Katy Hahn 

What Are Broken Links? 

Broken links are hyperlinks within pages of your website, or from your website to another website that no longer exists. These links are sometimes referred to as “link rot” or “dead links”. If you have clicked on a link within a website and you received a “404 Error” or “400 Bad Request”, you have encountered a broken link. Additional error codes you may see could be “Bad URL”, “Bad Code” or “Empty”. There are multiple reasons why broken links can occur on your site. These include:
  1. The destination website has been removed by the linked website
  2. The destination website has been permanently removed or no longer exists
  3. Links to downloadable content have been removed
  4. The linked URL has been mistyped by the owner of the website
  5. A firewall, or any other type of security measure, has been set up to deny access to the linked site

Why Are Broken Links Important? 

Most importantly, they provide for a bad user experience. If you have a website full of broken links, imagine the frustration your visitor will experience when they cannot reach the destination intended. Imagine this as a detour on a road trip; nobody enjoys a roadblock. The bounce rate on your site can also be affected by broken links, if you have traffic that immediately is leaving your site when they hit a broken link your bounce rate will increase. Fixing these broken links will keep visitors on your site longer, which means a decrease in bounce rate, and a higher chance of conversions or sales. Broken links can also negatively affect your Google Search results, which could reduce the amount of organic traffic flowing to your site. According to Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines ignoring broken links within your site can indicate your site has been abandoned or neglected.

How Do You Know If You Have Broken Links?

To check if your site has broken links you can quickly run your site through a free audit on Broken Link Checker– This is a quick and free way to monitor your site for broken links. Another free tool is setting up your website in Google Search Console. Search Console is a tool provided by Google to monitor your site’s performance and track any issues Google may find that would affect your site showing up in search results. Now you know what a broken link is and how to find them on your site, but how do you fix them?

How to Fix Broken Links: 

Once you determine where the broken link is, and what kind of broken link it is you will be able to figure out the best way to fix it. Here are some routes for fixing your websites broken links:
  1. Remove the broken link completely. This may mean you need to adjust the content surrounding this link
  2. Replace the broken link with a valid link
  3. Redirect the link to a valid page. There are many online tools and website plug-ins you can use on your site to help with. A personal favorite is 301 Redirects for WordPress 
  4. Correct the spelling of the link if it is a typo
Once you have created a process for monitoring your links keep the process in practice! If you would like a free website audit (which includes a backlink check up!) click here.  

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