There’s nothing worse than browsing a website and clicking an interesting link only to end your visit on the dreaded “404 page not found”. This is the result of broken links. There are a few reasons why links can become broken on your website, but they always have the same effect. Website visitors have a bad user experience and Search engines reduce the importance of your website in their rankings.
A broken link is a broken user experience
When a user encounters a broken link or 404 page this is a broken step in their purchasing or decision making process. It seems unbelievable that many business websites allow potential customers to slip away due to poor website maintenance. Yet it happens every day.
The good news is finding and fixing broken links is very easy, and that’s why we have made it one of our Quick wins.
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How to find and fix broken links on your website
This quick win comes in two parts. The first part is performing a check to find broken links. In the second part we look at fixing the broken links you found. So let’s start with finding broken links:
If you have setup your Google Search Console account, you will receive notifications automatically whenever a broken link is found on your website. But ideally you should find, and fix these broken links before Google finds them. That said, we definitely recommend having these reports automated.
Ok, to manually check your website for broken links you can select an important page on your website and click every link on the page. This is obviously a very slow process you can speed this up using a Broken link checker like ahrefs https://ahrefs.com/broken-link-checker which will crawl the whole website and return which links are broken.
Fix broken website links
Now you have identified broken links you need to fix them. The first step is to find out where the link should be going and what’s happened to that location? So click the link and verify it is broken, is there something wrong with the link format? A misspelt word or extraneous characters will break a link. Has the target page been moved to a different place? If so you will need to get the new location URL. If the original target of the link no longer exists you will need to redirect or update the link with an appropriate alternative link.
Once you have identified why its broken you have three choices to fix this broken website link
- Update link
- Redirect the link
- Remove the link
If the link was incorrect and you know where it should be going simple edit the content and update the link with the correct URL. If the content no longer exists you will need to choose a new target for this link. Sometimes choosing a website home page or category page is a good option, if no specific alternative is available.
Redirect the link
If the target of the link is missing and might return later, you might consider redirecting the link using a redirect plugin or your tech team. Again you will need to choose a new target for this URL, so it might be easier to update the link.
Remove the link
Finally, if no alternative exists you can remove the link, but editing the content and removing the hyperlink from the text. And maybe editing the content itself.
Have you tried this quick win?
Was it easy to follow? Did it take more than 5 minutes and has it had any impact (so far)? Share your thoughts and help other membership organisations improve their SEO.