What are the broken links?
A broken link is a web-page which when navigating the server gives the message “the page does not exist or is not found”. These are the links that can’t be found or accessed by a user, for the reason that they may not really exist, or maybe “lost” due to a malfunction, server or site configuration. Web servers will return an error message when a user tries to access a broken link. Broken links are also known as “dead links” or “link rots.”
Examples of a broken link error code
Here are some of the error codes that a web server may revert for a broken link:
404 Page Not Found: The page/resource doesn’t exist on the server
400 Bad Request: The host server can’t understand the URL on your page
Bad host / Invalid hostname: The server with that name doesn’t exist or is unreachable
Bad URL: Malformed URL (e.g. a missing bracket, extra slashes, wrong protocol, etc.)
Bad Code: Invalid HTTP response code: the server response violates HTTP specifications.
Empty: The host server returns “empty” responses with no substance and no reaction code.
Timeout: HTTP requests timed out during the link check
Reset: The host server drops connections for being either misconfigured or too busy.
Reasons For Broken Links
There are various reasons that broken links can occur, for example:
- The website owner may have entered the wrong URL (misspelled, mistyped, etc.).
- The URL structure of your website has recently changed without a redirect.
- If the site has a change in design either technically or visually, during transferring content to a new structure, due to lots of data, the technical algorithms sometimes become non-responsive due to overload while moving page content – broken links in such cases inevitably appear.
- When you link to an external site and a change occurs in its domain name, site structure or page deletion due to which it is no longer available is offline or has been permanently moved in this case the link to the page without will also become broken.
- Another cause can be when websites have an automatic update of content or other data from an external source with real-time data processing on the Internet. Failures in such systems can be the cause of broken links.
- The web page was either moved ore permanently removed from the site i.e. If you delete old and unnecessary pages and documents – but on other pages, there are links to these pages in their content. They become “broken” (causing what is known as a 404 error).
- Due to error in the coding structure, broken elements within the page gets generated.
- The user is having an active firewall software that blocks access to the website.
- Geo-location restriction on the website does not allow outside access(such as an Intranet site or a restricted access area on a website).
There are several more reasons for the appearance of broken links, but we’ve identified the main ones, and we’ll probably stop here.
Why Are Broken Links Important For SEO?
The Internet is an exceptionally powerful platform from its very beginning and it keeps getting more dynamic. Thousands of new sites are being created daily and a lot of exist already. The number of pages indexed by search engines is increasing every day. So it is very essential to make the site free from broken links as it affects the indexing of your site and decreases your site quality for search engines.
Broken links will affect your SEO, however, small no of broken links doesn’t have that deep effects but having too many broken links on a single page might indicate that a site is either not responding or offline. Google’s guidelines use broken links to determine the quality of a site, so you must constantly check for broken links and fix them when Google notifies you of a new issue detected on your site. A site that hasn’t been updated or checked for a long time may have lots of broken links, which create a link rot for the website.
Broken Links Will Affect:
Broken links are very bad for the user’s attitude to the site. They can be problematic for website visitors, making them unable to access the desired resource or information.
Consider a person who came for information on your site, saw a link on the topic, to find more information, clicks on it, but there’s nothing there.
These users may decide to make use of another site to find the necessary information elsewhere as they might not be as forgiving as the search engines for regular disruptions.
Visitors to your website determines their decision based on usability, experience, load time and content. A 404 error page is frustrating and its existence on your site makes the visitors move on to a different site that can provide them the information they need.
The bounce rate is measured by the number of time visitors spend on your page, and if the user doesn’t stay for a certain amount of time, they will be considered to have “bounced” from your page. The less time they spend on your site, the higher the bounce rate.
When you have unhappy visitors on your site, they spend more time on your website, resulting in a higher bounce rate. Search engines consider the sites with higher bounce rate as irrelevant and irresponsible.
Your Google Ranking
As mentioned above an irrelevant site with low responsiveness lower down the ranking of your website in the Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
When Google sees a high bounce rate for a site they will assume that the visitors didn’t find what they’re looking for and will remove the page from the SERPs.
Broken links also affect the indexability of your website. When a web crawler reaches a broken link it stops the indexing process, which can hamper your chances of getting noticed and rank in SERPs.
Dead pages don’t only have an impact only in terms of the search engines and users, it will affect your business too. They are a great blockage in the conversion process. No matter how much effort you have spent in getting customers to your site, if it is not resulting in getting conversions, all of your efforts will be a waste.
Other than having a loss in revenues, you are losing the customers as well. This is because when a customer is unhappy, he/she will propagate this to others and try to strike your image in the market and finally you will end up losing not one, but more customers.
Difficulty in Handling Broken Links
The worst thing about the broken links is that they are not easy to recognize and even don’t appear to the owners in general. It’s rare for the site owner to have a complete check on the analytics for broken links.
If your site has fewer pages, it is easy to control broken links, but fr bigger sizes it becomes a lot more difficult to control them. Especially when you refer to web documents from several other sites – you can not always keep track of the availability of all links from the sites.
The most important thing that needs to be understood that the appearance of broken links is a natural, unstoppable process. The larger your site, and the more often you refer to your own or other people’s pages – the higher the probability of broken links on the site.
It is difficult to fight against this (especially on other sites) – so we recommend to periodically monitor their presence on the site. This is more effective.
How To Check For Broken Links On Your Site?
The best way to keep an eye on these problems is to monitor your website regularly. Whenever you notice changes in the conversion rates, bounce rates or your traffic, you must check for the no of broken links on your site.
It will be overwhelming to check every single link on your website manually. The simplest and fastest way to see if you have any broken links is by checking your google webmaster report and see if there are any broken links or not. This makes things easier for you to identify broken links. If you have a larger site, you can also use tools for deep analysis of your site to identify broken links.
Google Search Console:
Google Search Console can help you in checking for broken links and will notify you if found. But the limitation is that they only show URLs on your website and not external links.
You can find these errors in your Google Search Console > Crawl > Crawl Errors reports.
How To Fix And Remove Broken Links On The Site?
Depending on the size of your website and the amount of content you upload daily on the site, you should have a site audit for once a month to check for broken links. For smaller sites, you can manually handle this issue by checking each and every link on the site but it is preferred to use the tools to do your work as it can have a deep insight into your site and provide you a broader report on this issue with necessary recommendations with it.
You can use these practices to fix, change and remove the broken links on the site
- Check Google Crawl Errors
- Avoid deep links on the website unless (or until) required.
- If the link is an external link, reach out to the linking website and request a fix
- Use of redirection mechanisms, which will redirect users to a new location of information in case of broken links.
- Recreate and replace the content at the broken URL.
- Redirect (301) the broken page to another relevant page on your website.
- Leave as a 404, show a “hard” 404, not a “soft” 404.
Eventually, by following this process, you can eliminate most of the broken links from your site. This can prevent your website from indexation problems, you can also put broken links in robots.txt file and disallow them. This way they can’t be indexed by search bots.
There are lots of tools available to check for the broken links, site availability, etc.. Here is the list of 15 top broken link checker tools which can be used for website link verification testing that can make your work easy.