The Trouble with Broken Links On Your Website
Do you have broken links on your website? When part of your website content links outbound to other sites, these links are called outbound links – like this one here. There are also internal links. This type links to parts of your own website (e.g, your website menu).
Once you’ve created an outbound link, it is unlikely that you will have control over that external content. As such, you may not realize if it has been removed or relocated, making the link ‘broken’. This happens a lot.
If you happen to update your website’s menu or rename or move a page from your site, this, too, will create broken links.
Why Are These Bad for Your Business?
When your site has broken links of any kind, it’s bad for your users and your SEO (search engine optimization).
Bad for Your Users
Broken links can be frustrating, especially when you’re hoping to be directed to additional and helpful information. We’ve all had it happen to us on one website or another. This can be the thing that drives potential customers away from your site – for good. Or it could leave an impression about your business’s attention to detail.
Bad for SEO
Google’s web crawlers, or Googlebots, inspect every website page by page and link by link. They collect the data they find about each page. The bots then report back what they find. While Google notes that your site won’t be affected negatively in search engine results because of one or two broken links, it does affect your SEO. (For more information on SEO for small business, we’ve written this article.)
Typically, when visitors click a broken link on a website, they will leave your site within seconds. Therefore, by spending less time on your site, search engines like Google will assume that it is because your site is not providing visitors with high-quality content. Or, that the information on your site isn’t relevant to their search. This results in lower SEO rankings.
In the end, and depending on what your business does, and who your customers are, broken links could potentially cause you lost business.
How Can You Find & Fix Your Broken Links?
If you have a small website, finding your broken links and fixing them can be fairly easy. Simply click each link on each page to make sure it leads to the proper external site or downloadable content. If you find one that is broken, there is a process to fix it.
First, you’ll want to determine if the link is broken because of a misspelling, because content was moved, or if the content simply no longer exists.
For moved content, you will want to find the new outbound link URL address (e.g., www.newlinkname.com) and make note of it. Then, edit the page/post of your site with the broken link and update the link accordingly. We always recommend retesting that link to ensure you’ve fixed it properly.
You May Need a 301 Redirect
For a link to content that simply doesn’t exist anymore, a 301 redirect is required. This happens a lot when someone renames one of their website pages or posts or deletes a page or post altogether. For example, let’s say you had a link that connected to another page on your website that was only created for a special event (e.g., a wedding, a concert, a carnival etc.). Once that event was over, you deleted that page from your site. You’ll want to either remove that link from your page, or create a 301 redirect to automatically send visitors who click that link to another location on your website. If this ‘special event’ page had been indexed by Google, it could still be returned as a link in search engine result pages (see image below as an example of a SERP). If a visitor clicked on it, after the page was deleted, they would be directed to a ‘Page Not Found’ page on that site.
But What if My Website Has Several Pages?
However, what if your website has hundreds of pages and or posts. Finding broken links and fixing them could be a time consuming and daunting task.
There are more than a couple of options for larger sites. Below are two that we recommend for your own manual updates.
Google Search Console
For instance, if you have a Google Search Console account, it can detect pages on your site that return broken link errors. For more information on GSC, take a look at this beginner’s guide.
Online Broken Link Checker
Another helpful tool is a stand alone website called Online Broken Link Checker. This website allows you to add your web address and it will check and report broken links for each page of your site.
The downside to these options is that once you are alerted to broken links on your website, you have to fix them manually.
What if I Need Help With Updating Broken Links?
Keeping up with your website page by page and link by link can be time consuming. And for those that are not comfortable in their website’s backend, it can also be confusing.
Here at Studio Barn Creative, we offer broken link checks and fixes as an add-on for our website maintenance plan clients. We monitor your website links weekly and make updates and/or create 301 redirects as needed to keep your site broken-link-free!
For only $10 per month, we’ll start monitoring and fixing the broken links on your website immediately.