Learn why broken internal links are bad for your website’s user experience and search engine visibility. Discover tips and tools to find and fix them effectively, even on large websites.
What Are Broken Internal Links?
Broken internal links are links on your website that lead to a page that doesn’t exist. This can happen when a page is deleted, when there’s a typo in the link, or if a page’s web address changes.
Broken internal links, also known as dead links or 404 errors, are hyperlinks within a website that lead to non-existent or inaccessible pages. These links are meant to direct users to specific content or resources within the same website, but due to various reasons, they fail to do so.
Causes of Broken Links
Broken links can occur for various reasons:
Before a site migration, ensure you have a comprehensive 301 redirect map to prevent mass broken links.
Why Fixing Broken Links is Crucial
Impact on SEO
Search engines like Google use internal links with strong anchor text to rank pages. Broken links can prevent proper indexing, leading to lost visibility.
Additionally, a well-linked structure spreads link value across a website. Broken links disrupt this flow, potentially devaluing pages or the entire domain.
User Experience (UX)
A website’s main goal is to provide a smooth experience. Broken links frustrate users and erode trust. Over time, this can lead to fewer visits, less engagement, and lower rankings.
How to Identify Broken Internal Links
Going through each page to find incorrect links. This method is thorough but not practical for large websites.
Utilizing Online Tools
Google provides tools like Chrome’s Inspection feature and Google Search Console to identify 404 errors indicating broken links. Other SEO tools like Screaming Frog, Ahrefs, and Semrush etc can also help.
Popular content management systems like WordPress and Drupal have plugins and modules to identify problematic links.
How to Fix Broken Internal Links?
Use 301 redirects to inform browsers and search engines that a page has moved. This passes on PageRank to the new location. Only redirect to relevant pages to maintain a good user experience.
Removing or Replacing Links
If a redirect isn’t needed, simply replace the incorrect URL with the right one. If the content is outdated, consider removing or replacing the link with a more relevant resource.
Preventing Future Broken Links
Schedule regular link audits using tools like Screaming Frog or CMS-specific solutions.
Training and Guidelines
Train content creators on best practices for internal linking, including creating and fixing links, checking URLs, and updating links when necessary.
Broken internal links may seem small, but they can have a big impact on user experience and SEO. By following these steps, you can identify and fix broken links and prevent future issues, ensuring a healthy and well-performing website.