Search engines do not want broken links in their search! Also, users don’t like dead ends.
If your visitors see a 404 or 403 error for a page they requested on your website, it means that specific page was not found. As search engines, visitors too prefer to land on your site and get the content they searched for.
Broken or DEAD links can bring quite some damage to your web site. For example, search engines may think that the page does not exist anymore and then remove it from the search. Also, your visitors might be discouraged to visit your site again, once they do not find they are searching for.
There are different reasons why would you have broken links. You might have moved the page or removed the page without doing redirection. Or, some website owner made a mistake when linking to your site. Here’s how broken links could harm your online presence:
- Less customers – you may lose current customers if they keep running onto dead ends. Bad for reputation.
- No customers – When other websites link to a specific page on your website which has a broken link, they may equally send new target customers to a non-existing page. With such a problem you may lose getting new targeted customers.
- Search Engines – If search engines cannot find already indexed page, it may have negative impact on your quality score.
- Lost traffic – With quite many broken links, your site will not be crawled as often and eventually pages / site will not be indexed.
Link Checker for Broken Links
Solution to this problem is to first check and then, as soon as possible find a way how to fix broken links. There are quite many useful FREE tools available for finding broken links. For instance Google Webmaster Tools is a free tool and it can help you find URL errors. It can also provide you with an information when was last it tried to crawl the URL and briefly explain what errors deserve your actions NOW. The problem with Google Webmaster Tools is that it is always a bit late with their analysis which in many situation can mean “too late.” One should check for broken links before Google does (to avoid penalty).
Health of your links can be checked with a link validator, a program called LinkChecker. LinkChecker is a free GPL licensed website validator. Once you install the program, all you need to do is enter the URL of your website on the command line. The LinkChecker will validate all pages as well as external links pointing outside of your URL. Here’s how it looks:
Once you get your visitors to visit your website, you want to make sure they keep coming back. Here is what you could do in order to fix broken links:
- Create a custom 404 error page so your visitors KNOW only one page is missing. Here you can offer them other links to follow. Having a custom 4o4 error page is a must for every website.
- Redirects. Have 301 redirects when moving a page to a new destination or when completely removing a page. This way search engines and visitors will be redirected to its new destination.
- If applicable you can create a new page and link a missing link to it.
- Set automatic redirects (automatically redirects the site visitors to the new page) if your CMS is supporting them.
- Regularly perform link check.
If not sure how to find out if your website have broken links and why, send us a quote at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit our Facebook Nordic Search Fan Page ‘Like’ us and share with us what is your approach when dealing with broken links by leaving a comment .
Article by Daliborka Krstic