Broken Links: The Silent SEO Killers and How to Fix Them
Updated: Jun 29
What are Broken Links?
Broken links, also known as dead links or 404 errors, are hyperlinks on a webpage that lead to non-existent or inaccessible destinations.
When a user clicks on a broken link, instead of being directed to the intended webpage or content, they encounter an error message or a blank page indicating that the link is broken.
There are several reasons why links become broken:
Page Removal: The linked page may have been deleted or removed from the website without setting up a proper redirect.
URL Changes: The URL of the linked page might have been modified or updated, resulting in a broken link if the URL is not updated accordingly.
Typographical Errors: If there are typos or mistakes in the URL of the linked page, it can lead to a broken link when clicked.
Server or Network Issues: Temporary server or network problems can cause links to be inaccessible, resulting in broken links.
Broken links can occur within your own website (internal links) or when linking to external websites (external links). Regardless of their origin, broken links can negatively impact user experience, SEO, and the overall credibility of your website.
It is important to regularly check for broken links and fix them promptly to ensure a seamless user experience, maintain a healthy website, and avoid potential negative impacts on your search engine rankings.
How can Broken Links effect SEO?
Broken links can have a negative impact on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for several reasons:
User Experience: When a user clicks on a broken link, they are directed to a page that doesn't exist or displays an error message. This creates a poor user experience and can lead to frustration, decreased engagement, and increased bounce rates. Search engines like Google prioritise websites that provide a positive user experience, so broken links can signal low quality and negatively affect your rankings.
Crawling and Indexing: Search engine crawlers follow links to discover and index web pages. When a crawler encounters a broken link, it cannot access the linked page, leading to incomplete indexing. This means that the affected page may not be properly ranked or even included in search engine results.
Link Juice and Page Authority: Links are an important factor in SEO, as they contribute to the authority and relevance of a webpage. When a broken link exists on your site, it prevents the flow of "link juice" (the value or authority passed through links) to the linked page. This can impact the overall authority and ranking potential of that page, as well as the pages linking to it.
Backlink Profile: If external websites link to your site but the linked pages contain broken links, it can harm your backlink profile. Broken links discourage other websites from linking to your content in the future, reducing your opportunities to gain valuable backlinks that positively impact your SEO.
To mitigate the negative effects of broken links on SEO, it is crucial to regularly audit and fix them. You can use various tools to identify broken links on your website and take appropriate actions, such as updating or redirecting them to relevant pages.
By maintaining a healthy link structure, you can enhance user experience, improve crawlability and indexing, preserve link authority, and strengthen your overall SEO efforts.
How to spot and fix Broken Links?
To spot and fix broken links on your website, you can follow these steps:
Website Audit: Conduct a comprehensive audit of your website to identify broken links. There are several online tools available that can crawl your website and provide a list of broken links. Some popular tools include Screaming Frog, Xenu's Link Sleuth, and Google Search Console.
Internal Link Check: Review your website's internal links, including navigation menus, sidebar links, and in-content links. Manually click on each link to ensure they are working correctly and not leading to error pages.
External Link Check: If your website includes external links to other websites, make sure to check them as well. External links can become broken if the linked website changes the URL or removes the linked page.
Utilise Webmaster Tools: If you have set up Google Search Console or other webmaster tools for your website, they can provide valuable insights into broken links. These tools can generate reports and alerts about broken links that search engine crawlers encounter while indexing your site.
Regular Maintenance: Broken links can reoccur over time as websites change or pages are removed. Therefore, it's essential to regularly monitor and fix broken links on your website. Make it a part of your ongoing website maintenance routine.
Fixing Broken Links: Once you have identified broken links, you can take the following actions to fix them:
Update the Link: If the linked page still exists but has been moved or renamed, update the link URL to point to the correct location.
Redirect the Link: If the linked page no longer exists but you have a relevant alternative page on your site, set up a 301 redirect from the broken URL to the new page. This ensures that users and search engines are directed to the appropriate content.
Remove or Replace the Link: If the linked page is permanently unavailable or if there is no suitable replacement, consider removing the broken link altogether or replacing it with a different, relevant link.
By actively identifying and fixing broken links on your website, you can improve user experience, enhance SEO, and maintain a healthy and functional website.