What Are Broken Links: How to Fix Them
A broken link

Written by: Jabari Thompson

A rising entrepreneur who started from freelance web design. Jabari works with NJ small businesses and nonprofits to increase their search presence.
Updated on: September 22, 2023

Broken links lead to pages that do not exist or pages that cannot be found by the server. When clicking on a broken link, you will either get an error message, a blank page, or no result. Having broken links on your website interferes with user experience and has a negative impact on local SEO. In order to develop a solid backlink strategy, you need to maintain solid internal and external links. This article will discuss the common broken links you may encounter, and how to fix them. Let’s find out what are broken links and how to fix them!

Types of Broken Links:

There are 8 common types of broken links…

  1. Bad URL: Incorrect syntax of the URL…(missing bracket, extra/missing slashes)
  2. Bad Code: The response from the server violates the HTTP specification
  3. Bad Host: Host name is invalid, the server with the name provided does not exist
  4. Timeout: HTTP request repeatedly timed out while checking the link
  5. Reset: The server is either misconfigured or too busy, so it drops the connection
  6. Empty: The server returns empty responses with no content and no response code
  7. 404 Page Not Found: The page requested does not exist on the server
  8. 400 Bad Request The server cannot understand the URL provided  

Common Causes for Broken Links:

Here are some ways you can encounter a broken link…

Human Error

We all make mistakes. Sometimes an extra colon, slash, letter, or period in a URL, can cause a 404 page not found error. Make sure to check the spelling of your URLs when submitting them to the server. 

Renaming Pages

Once a URL slug is changed when a page is renamed, an error can occur when a user attempts to access the new page. If the URL is not updated on Google and throughout the website, the server will then produce an error expecting the old URL. 

Broken Code

Missing HTML tags or improper syntax will result in broken links. Before publishing a page, make sure to check all of your website’s backend files for any coding mistakes

Change of Domain Name

If you are navigating to a new domain for your website, be sure that you reindex your new domain through Google. Also, be sure that all the links on your website point to slugs of the new domain. Failure to do so will result in a server error.

Removing Content

When you have downloadable content such as a PDF or eBook, a broken link can occur when this content is removed. The link will remain with no place to go, resulting in an error.

Importance of Fixing Broken Links for SEO

Your rank on Google declines when you have technical problems, such as broken links on your website. Broken links affect your website’s SEO in three ways…

User Experience

Searchers want to find what they want as quickly as possible. Broken links prevent searchers from having smooth navigation on your website. Clicking on a link that leads nowhere, or that produces error messages is a huge turnoff. This affects your website’s reputation and will lower your chances of ranking high for valuable search terms.

E-E-A-T:

Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) are four ranking factors that Google uses to evaluate your website. Broken links affect the Trustworthiness of your website. With dead links and server errors present on your site, Google views your content as unreliable. Even if you have well-written content on your web pages, your site’s overall reputation can be ruined by a few broken links. For more on the other acronyms of E-E-A-T check out this post.

Bounce Rate:

When your website doesn’t have broken links, users will tend to stay on your site longer. This improves your bounce rate, as less users “bounce” from your site looking for better content. Lowering your bounce rate, can be an indicator to Google that your website content is legit and offers value to its search engine. 

How to Find Broken Links

Using SEM Rush

Semrush offers a site audit that reports back errors. You can also use this tool to view your site’s overall health and get insight into how you can improve your linking structure. Another great part about the Semrush site audit, is that it gives feedback on how to fix the broken link error.

Semrush site audit snippet

Using Google Search Console

If you have connected your website to Google Search Console, you can find broken links in the Crawl report. This report is accessed in your Google Search Console settings. Be mindful that the broken links shown in the Search Console report are only links on your website, not external links. So you may need to check for broken external links manually or by using another tool.

—> First, go to Settings 

Google search console settings

—> Next, click on ‘Open Report’ in Crawl Stats

Open report in the crawl stats section of Google Search Console

—> You can find broken links and the errors associated with them by looking at “Crawl requests breakdown: by response”

Crawl requests breakdown "By response"; Google Search Console

Using Ahrefs Broken Link Checker

Ahrefs offers a free dead link checker that is fast and easy to use. First, input your website URL and select if you want to check for dead links via the exact domain or subdomain. The checker will then return the amount of dead inbound and external links found on your website. In addition, the checker tells you the error that is associated with the dead link so you have an idea of how to fix the issue. 

Ahrefs broken link checker

Fixing Broken Links on CMS Platforms

Fixing Broken Links on Wix 

If you are using Wix as your website builder, it is best to use a third party link checker tool to find broken links. Wix does not have any plugins for checking broken links. However, Wix does offer a tool to redirect old URLs to new page URLs. 

—> First to your Wix dashboard 

—> Then, scroll down the sidebar and under Marketing and SEO, select SEO 

Marketing & SEO section in Wix dashboard

—> Next, scroll down and go to URL redirect manager 

Wix URL redirect manager

—> Here you can update old URLs that may be dead links to redirect to an active new page.

Single redirect

—> Finally, just click Edit updated the new URL and Save Changes when you are done

Fixing Broken Links on Shopify

Redirecting broken links on Shopify is pretty straight forward as well. Once you are in the Shopify dashboard follow these simple steps to update your URL redirects.

—> First, scroll down to ‘Navigation’ 

Shopify: "Themes"

—> Then, click on “View URL Redirects

Shopify: "View URL redirects

—> Next, select the URL you want to redirect and update the new URL

Shopify: "Redirect from" and "Redirect to"

—> You can also create a new URL for broken links you find using a third party dead link checker

Fixing Broken Links on WordPress 

WordPress offers several plugins to find and update broken links. We recommend using Broken Link Checker as it is a fast and easy to use option to find broken links on your website.

Wordpress Broken Link Checker

Broken Link Checker

This plugin scans your entire site for broken links. Not only are pages scanned, but blog post comments, custom fields, and images are scanned to find dead links. The plugin offers two link checkers, the cloud based link checker and the local link checker. The cloud based checker offers higher speeds and let’s you check an unlimited number of links. While the local link checker allows you to monitor your site for broken links and prevent search engines from following dead links. Each link checker offers other features to improve your site health, which you can find here.

Fixing Broken Links on Squarespace 

If you have a Squarespace website, there are detailed instructions on how to find a fix broken links on your site. You can find this information here.

Conclusion: What Are Broken Links: How to Fix Them

For your site to have good health and user experience, you need to monitor your website for broken links every month. Additionally, after you make significant changes on your website or restructure your site, the next move is to check for dead links. When you update a blog post for example, it is especially important to check your website for broken links after.

Now that you have an understanding of broken links, put your knowledge to the test. Check your website to see if there are any broken web links needing to be fixed. After you check your website, be sure to let us know in the comments what error you run into. Contact us today for help building a backlink strategy for your business!

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