As a website owner or SEO specialist, you’re likely aware that search engine optimisation (SEO) plays a crucial role in driving organic traffic to websites across all industries. SEO involves various factors, and one often overlooked aspect is the impact of broken links.
In this guide, we’ll explore what broken links are, why broken links on your website matter, and how to address them to maintain a healthy website.
What are Broken Links?
Broken links, also known as dead links or 404 errors, are hyperlinks that no longer work because the target webpage has been removed or the URL has changed. When a visitor clicks on a broken link, they are directed to a 404-error page which indicates that the requested content is not found.
Broken links can have a detrimental impact on your website’s SEO and user experience, which is why staying on top of them is beneficial for your site. Broken links are commonly caused by deleted web pages that do not have a redirect, a typo in the URL, or broken page elements.
By regularly auditing your site for broken links and taking appropriate actions to fix or redirect them, you can maintain a healthy and SEO-friendly website. A well-maintained website not only improves your SEO but also enhances your brand’s credibility and user satisfaction – find out why broken links are bad for websites and how to fix them below.
Are Broken Links Bad for SEO?
Broken links can be bad for websites and can negatively impact SEO. Some examples of the negatives of broken links include:
Poor User Experience
Broken links may frustrate visitors and disrupt their browsing experience. Users are less likely to stay on your site or return to it if they encounter frequent dead ends and 404 pages, which can often lead to higher bounce rates.
Negatively Impacts Bounce Rate
If a user clicks on a page on your site but is instead shown a 404, they are much more likely to exit your site which increases the bounce rate. High bounce rates can also send signals to Google that the content on your website is not useful which may make it harder to perform well in the SERP.
Causes Website Indexing Issues
Search engines prioritise well-structured websites with clean navigation. Broken links can confuse search engine algorithms and impact indexing which can also reduce your site’s visibility in search results.
Impact on Authority and Ranking Position
Inbound links from other reputable websites contribute to your domain and page authority. Broken links disrupt this link-building process, which can have a surprisingly large impact on your site’s overall SEO performance.
As well as authority and indexing problems, broken links can also negatively impact rankings when crawled.
Search engine bots regularly crawl websites to index their content and when they encounter broken links, may struggle to navigate your site effectively. This could potentially lead to important pages being missed which can result in lower search engine rankings.
Benefits of Fixing Broken Links
There are several benefits of fixing broken links, which is why it is best SEO practice to ensure that any 404 pages are either redirected or permanently deleted. Some key benefits include:
- If your website relies on inbound and outbound links for SEO and credibility, fixing broken links is crucial. A well-maintained link structure can support your link-building and contribute towards a higher domain authority.
- Broken links can also be particularly frustrating for users with disabilities who rely on screen readers or other assistive technologies. By ensuring that all links work properly, the accessibility and inclusivity of your website will be improved.
- By fixing broken links and providing visitors with the content they expect, bounce rates will decrease, and users will be more likely to explore more pages on your site.
- Search engines value well-maintained websites with good user experiences. When you fix broken links, you contribute to an organised and user-friendly site structure which will help your website rank.
Fixing broken links on your website still matters for SEO purposes as well as for users – find out how to find and fix broken links below.
How to Find Broken Links
There are several techniques you can use to locate and fix broken links on your website. Some of these include:
Online Tools: There are various online crawling software which can help you to locate broken links. Screaming Frog, Google Search Console, and Broken Link Checker are all tools that can help you identify broken links on your website.
Frequently Check Your Website: Regularly reviewing your website’s content and internal and external links to ensure they are functioning correctly can help you locate broken links or identify an issue before it becomes a 404. You should also complete a better search and replace to identify any pages which contain a 404 link when fixing or removing broken links.
Update Outbound Links: If you find any broken external links which point to external websites, consider reaching out to the site owners to request updates or replacements for 404s.
Remove or Replace Existing Links: For internal broken links, remove them if the content is no longer relevant, or replace them with updated links to ensure a seamless user experience.
How to Fix Broken Links on Your Website
Prioritise High-Authority Pages
If you identify that your website has a long list of broken links, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start. The best approach is to prioritise the pages which contain links that have high value or significance, pages that have a substantial number of links pointing to them, and links that originate from pages with considerable authority in your industry.
Focus on Newer Links
Once you’ve addressed broken links on high-authority pages, shift your focus to fixing links on pages with recent links. This means giving priority to repairing broken links on pages that are regularly updated and still receive a consistent flow of traffic.
Redirect Links to Relevant URLs
When a broken link leads to a page that no longer exists, it’s a good practice to redirect it to a relevant URL. Avoid redirecting everything to the homepage or to a category unrelated to the original page’s content.
An effective approach is to identify pages that rank for similar keywords as the old URL. When choosing a page to redirect to, ensure that the URL provides visitors with a seamless and relevant user experience.
By following these best practices, you can systematically address broken links on your website, starting with the most critical ones and ensuring that your redirections maintain the relevance and quality of user experience.
Still need support? Get in touch with our SEO specialists to investigate and fix your website. From redirects to search engine optimisation, our team can help you today. Find out more about our SEO services or get in touch by filling out our contact form.
Posted on Friday, November 10th, 2023 in Latest News.