Accessibility & Inclusion

How to Fix Broken Links On Your Website

November 2, 2022 7 minute read
Broken links are terrible for quality assurance, can destroy your conversion rates, and may also directly harm SEO rankings. So, how do you fix them?

By now, you should know that broken links are terrible for quality assurance. Broken links can destroy your conversion rates. Broken links indirectly harm SEO by affecting bounce rate, time on site, and how you pass link juice. Broken links may also directly harm SEO rankings by sending signals that your website is old and outdated. So, how exactly do you go about fixing broken links? With just one broken link potentially damaging your online presence, checking broken links that may exist on your site is absolutely crucial.

Broken links should really be a thing of the past, and with just a little bit of work you can ensure that this is the case for your website at least. Broken links, like inaccessible buildings, must become a rare exception on your website if you truly want to meet increasingly high online standards.

Let’s take a look at how to deal with broken links - You’ll discover how to find broken links, how to fix broken links, including how to fix broken internal links as well as external ones.

Finding Broken Links

So, how to fix broken links? Well, in order to fix broken links, you’ve got to find them first. There are numerous different ways to find broken links on your website. One is to use Google Webmaster Tools to check broken links. Under the “Crawl Errors,” you will be able to find broken links on your website. This will not find broken links to external pages though. Another option is to set up a custom filter on your Google Analytics account for your 404 Error page so you can track how many hits it gets. Again, this will not help you track broken external links.

Before you even consider how to fix broken links, you need to first think about how you find broken external links? You could spend all week (or month) going through every single page on your website and clicking every link to make sure it works. But, considering how quickly the internet changes, you’d have to start the process all over again right away to stay on top of broken links. Unless you want to hire a full-time broken link checker, we’d recommend getting a tool to automate the job of checking broken links.

In order to effectively fix broken links on your website, it is also a good idea to prioritize your high value pages first in order to make the biggest possible impact on the user experience.

Of course, we recommend using the Monsido by Acquia Quality Assurance tool for finding broken links. The beauty of this tool is that it scans your website every week for broken links (and other errors) and sends a report to your inbox. This makes it really easy to stay on top of broken links so you can fix them before they hurt user experience and rankings.

Fixing Broken External Links

An external link is any link from your website to another website. A lot of webmasters make the mistake of thinking that broken external links don’t matter because it won’t hurt their own bounce rate or time on site metrics. However, broken external links are still disastrous for your website. It tells users that you aren’t trustworthy. Too many broken external links also sends signals to Google that your site is outdated, and it could be harmful to rankings.

Fixing broken external links is fairly easy. You’ve got two options:

  • Just remove the link completely
  • Replace the link with a valid link

Remember, just because you don’t have control over broken external links (websites change and move content all the time), it doesn’t excuse you from having broken links. You still have complete control over the maintenance of your own website and it is your duty to fix those broken links pronto!

Fixing Broken Internal Links

So, how to fix broken internal links? Well, unlike with external links, you have complete control over internal links. By initiating good web practices, you can prevent broken links on your own website. We will get into these practices in a later post, but they include tactics like creating a uniform policy for when naming URLs, removing old content, and creating new drafts of pages.

If you find a broken link on your website, it is major trouble. It will harm your SEO, it will reduce trustworthiness, and your conversion rates will suffer. There are 4 ways to fix broken internal links:

1. Is It A Typo?

One common cause of broken internal links is typos. See if the 404 Error is because of a misspelling and fix it. Problem solved!

2. Make the Page Real Again

This is the best solution for fixing broken links in terms of SEO, especially if the missing page has backlinks pointing to it. However, this does mean more work (you’ve got to recreate the page). And, in some cases, it doesn’t make sense to recreate the deleted page – such as if the page was for a product you don’t offer anymore. 

3. Redirects

Using 301 redirects is the method that Google recommends for fixing broken internal links. Ideally, you redirect to a page with relevant content – such as a relevant post or a category or tag page. Only redirect to the Home page as a last resort. Redirecting broken internal links does take a bit of time, but it will keep the link juice flowing and gets you more page views, which is good for your SEO.

4. Delete the Broken Link

This is the easiest method of dealing with broken internal links. The downside is that you lose an opportunity to increase page views, time on site, and pass link juice. Only delete the broken link if it really isn’t crucial to your site.

Once you become more familiar with how to fix broken internal links, you will find that dealing with them will become easier and easier, and the process by which you check for broken links will become smoother and smoother.

Final Thoughts

So, why is it so important to check broken links? A broken link is more than a simple inconvenience, it is a signal to your visitors that your website is not up to date, relevant and trustworthy. Checking broken links is essential as a high volume of broken links will be sure to not only damage your search results and page rankings, but will also negatively contribute towards creating a sub par user experience for your visitors. Regularly checking your site for broken links is therefore a must for websites looking to keep their broken link SEO collateral to a minimum.  

Finding and fixing broken links is quite simply an essential practice for any website that is looking to improve SEO, keep visitors happy, and avoid potential issues with Google crawling and indexing. 

The process of checking broken links, unlike many other potential website issues, is thankfully pretty simple. The most important thing is to check for broken links regularly, especially if you are uploading a lot of new content. If you do not check for broken links systematically and periodically, you may soon find that some have slipped through the cracks. 

While checking broken links may not seem like much fun, once you become familiar with the basics of how to fix broken links you will find that dealing with them is actually a pretty straightforward and simple affair.  

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