Links are what holds the web together. The web has the ability for pages and sites to link to other sources and relevant information. So, if links are broken, a visitor has no way of moving to the other resource.
What is a Broken Link?
It may not seem like much on the surface, but deep down, a broken link is doing some serious damage to your website, your reputation, and your business. A single broken link can impact search engine rankings, site’s user experience, result in lost customers and revenue or all of the above.
A broken link or dead link is a link on a web page that no longer works because the website is encountering one or more of the reasons below.
Reasons for broken links
- An improper URL entered for the link by the website owner.
- The destination website removed the linked web page (causing what is known as a 404 error).
- The destination website permanently moved or no longer exists.
- The website owner linked to a site that is behind a firewall that does not allow outside access (such as an Intranet site or a restricted access area on a website).
How to Find and Fix Broken Links
Broken links on your website can be harmful in two ways:
- They make for a bad user experience – When users click on links and reach dead-end 404 errors, they get frustrated and may never return.
- They devalue your SEO efforts – Broken links restrict the flow of link equity throughout your site, which impacts rankings negatively.
To avoid these potential pitfalls, you should periodically check for broken links on your entire website.
Step 1: Find broken links
There are a number of tools you can use to identify broken links, many of them free.
- Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a great free tool for tracking website performance, and it’s also helpful for easily finding broken links. First, log into your Google Analytics account and set the evaluation period for the amount of time you want to look at. If you check for broken links monthly, set the period for the month since your last check.
Step 2: Create a report and track your changes
After identifying your broken links, create an Excel spreadsheet to track link redirect processes. Name it something like “Broken Link Redirect Report.” In Google Analytics, you can export the report you just created by clicking Export – CSV for Excel on the top of the page, and downloading the file. For our purposes, we only need the data on broken links, page views and unique page views, so copy and paste these data columns into the Excel spreadsheet you have created.
Step 3: Analyze data and decide which pages should be redirected
After all the preparation, we come to the important stage. Google Analytics give us a list of links that may be broken. But before actually redirecting them, you should first analyze the pages and the reasons they may not be working properly.
Step 4: Redirect in CMS
Finally, it’s time to actually redirect the broken links in your content management system (CMS).
There is no question, broken links cause some business headaches. There are webmasters who aren’t even aware of the problems they cause. Whether broken links are hurting SEO efforts or keeping visitors from buying products these are solvable problems. It just takes time and dedication to resolve them.