A broken link is something you click on the internet which either doesn’t load a web page, or takes you to the wrong one.
Broken website links are bad for user experience
The success of any business website relies on getting visitors to the right place. Enticing people to a website isn’t easy, so once they’re there, we want it to be as simple as possible for them to use.
Just think how frustrating it is to click on something, only to be met with ‘page not found’ error message. Your site visitors are less likely to ask where the information is, than they are to try and find it with a competitor. A business with an online presence risks losing a lot of customers this way.
Are broken links bad for organic search?
If frustrated website visitors can’t get past your broken links to the information they need, they’ll go elsewhere.
This can affect your website’s bounce rate. Your bounce rate is the rate at which people land on your site only to leave immediately.
Having a high bounce rate sends a signal to Google that visitors to a website aren’t satisfied with what they find there.
Search engines interpret this to mean that the page isn’t providing relevant content, and isn’t useful as a search result. Down the results pages it falls, making it more difficult to bring visitors to your site.
And of course, visitors leaving your site before they buy from you is bad news for your business.
What causes broken links?
Websites are never a set-it-and-forget-it task. They need regular maintenance and updates to ensure they are running correctly. If you’ve had your website for a while, the chances are you’ve made changes and forgotten to update the links.
Some of the most common causes of broken links include:
- Deleted web pages, images or videos
- Typos in links
- A renamed or moved page – if you don’t update internal links this can lead to a broken link
- Linking to content that has been removed
- Switching domain names
How do you find broken links on your website?
If the idea of manually searching for links on every single page is daunting, don’t worry! There are tools you can use to hunt for broken links.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a great tool for detecting pages on your site which flag up errors. It’s always wise to use GSC regularly to check for website errors, whether they’re broken links or something else.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Google, Xenu is a free website analysis tool that can be used to spot any dead links. Simply install the software and enter your website domain.
Sites such as www.brokenlinkcheck.com are useful if you don’t want to install any software. Just input your website address into the search bar, and let it do its thing.
How do I fix broken links?
Once broken links have been identified, the next step is to ‘fix’ them. This might entail:
- removing the link from the piece of content it appears in
- changing the link in the content so that it points at something else
Doing this can be a lengthy process depending on the size of your website, and how much is broken. It’s time well spent though, and will likely have a positive impact on how successful your website is at generating business.