How to Fix Broken Links

Posted by Elma Mrkonjić
How to Fix Broken Links

Broken links are the bane of every website manager or website owner out there. They can indirectly cost you the extra traffic and prevent you from ranking higher in the SERPs by negatively affecting user experience, conversion rates, your website’s crawlability, and more.

The good news is that fixing broken links is actually rather simple. As tedious as it may seem, just about anyone can do it. In fact, to prove that, we’ve prepared a brief guide to show you just how easy it is.

Key Points

  • Why Are Broken Links Bad
  • How to Find Broken Links
  • Fixing Internal and External Links
  • How to Fix Broken Links in WordPress
  • Fix Broken Links in Emails
  • Our Takeaway

A lot of bloggers and website owners procrastinate when it comes to fixing broken links. While it doesn’t seem like too big of a deal, broken links can actually affect your website negatively in many different ways.

First of all, broken links can ruin the user experience. By having a lot of broken links, you risk increasing the bounce rate. If a user is annoyed with constant errors or cannot access the information they are looking for, chances are they will simply try another website.

Additionally, broken links may lower your conversion rates. For example, a higher bounce rate can easily translate into you losing potential leads and buying customers, especially if a broken link occurs on a page relevant to the product or service you are offering.

Lastly, broken links can affect your website’s crawlability. Crawlability is one of the most important search engine ranking factors. Search engines like Google or Bing use crawlers to scan and index web pages.

The better the crawlability of your website, the easier it is for crawlers to discover URLs and categorize pages. In contrast, a lot of broken links can hinder your website’s crawlability and cause you to potentially lose rankings.

Now that you know why broken links are bad for your website and have a good incentive to fix as many as you can, the next step you should take is to learn how to identify and find broken links.

There are two ways to do that, and you can find broken links either manually or with the help of software. Depending on how many pages your website has and the number of broken links, it can take you weeks to manually check every link on your site and then fix it. Instead of that, we recommend using a tool like Google Analytics, Ahrefs’ Site Audit, or sign up for our newsletter and get notified when SerpWatch Free Broken Link Checker is finally live!

Of course, these are just two of many other tools that do the same job, and, while the interface and the steps you need to take may be different, the process is relatively the same.

If you’re using Google Analytics to find broken links, simply log in to your account and navigate to the Behavior tab. After that, select Site Content and then All Pages. Once there, you can edit the date and select the evaluation period.

An important thing to know is that it may take a while to perform the audit if you are doing it for the very first time. However, the next time you do it, you can simply edit the date and set the evaluation period for the last week or the last month, depending on how regularly you check for broken links.

The next step is to set the Primary Dimension to Page Title. After that, click on the button labeled as advanced and edit the filter to show results containing your “404 Page”. By 404 Page, we refer to the name you have given your 404 error page in your CMS.

After the tool has finished analyzing your website, you will receive a broken link report with the number of 404 errors that occurred and the number of pages the error has occurred on. The only thing left to do after that is export the data, analyze it, and determine what pages and broken links need fixing.

In case you plan to fix more than just broken links, it is worth noting that we have created an HTTP status codes cheat sheet. It has information on all the assigned HTTP status codes, and it will help you quickly identify any error you encounter.

The first thing you should know about fixing broken links is that links can be internal, external, or backlinks. All three of these types of broken links occur for several reasons, such as user error, a typo in the code, or if the page the link leads to has been renamed, moved, or deleted.

Before you decide to fix a link, you should remember that not all broken links need to be fixed. To determine which link you should fix and which one you can ignore you can simply analyze the broken link report you obtained from the analytics tool.

If a broken link comes from a page that has been visited once or only a few times, the main culprit for the broken link might actually be human error. Namely, if a user made a typo and entered the wrong URL into the address bar.

In most cases, issues like these are not worth fixing. However, if the source is a page with multiple visits, then it is more likely that the error is on your end, and you should definitely invest time in fixing the issue.

There are several different ways to fix broken links, and the option you choose should depend mostly on the type of broken link you plan to fix and the issue you are having.

Internal links are links on your domain that lead to other pages on your domain. To fix a broken internal link, you should first check what caused the issue. If you simply entered the wrong URL when linking to another page, all you have to do is correct the spelling. Similarly, a typo can also occur in the HTTML code, so make sure to see if you have any misspelled or extra characters in the code.

In case the link leads to a page you moved or deleted, you can simply replace the link with another valid link. An important thing to remember is that the new link you add should link to a relevant page. Links are generally tied to an anchor text, and if the anchor text is misleading, it will cause more harm than good.

In case you have deleted the page, one option you have is to recreate the content of the deleted page. In case you are not sure what the deleted page was about, you can use tools like the Wayback Machine to recover a broken link, and see the archived copy of a page.

That way, you can easily replace the broken link with a live one or with new content. However, if you deleted the page or the content for a reason, and you don’t plan to create a similar page, another option is to simply remove the broken link.

Lastly, one way to fix URL links is to redirect the user to another relevant page, which is what Google recommends for fixing broken internal links. To do that, simply use the 301 redirect method and, as always, ensure that you are linking to a redirected to a relevant page.

Unlike internal links that lead to a page on your domain, external links lead to a page on a different domain. The good news is that fixing external links works the same as fixing internal links. Therefore, all you will have to do to fix external links is to recreate the same steps.

Of course, it’s worth noting that you won’t be able to use the 301 redirect method to fix broken external links. Additionally, while you won’t be able to recreate the page you are linking to, you can fix the link by linking to another page with similar content.

Backlinks are an integral part of outreach marketing. Backlinks are also known as inbound links and these types of links lead from another domain to your website. In other words, when a different website links to one of your pages.

While you don’t have much control over the links that are not on your website, the good news is that there are still things you can do to fix broken backlinks.

The best solution to fix a broken backlink is to reach out to the website that linked to your page. This method is known as broken link building, and it helps site managers ensure they receive a backlink rather than a broken link. Typos in the URL are quite common, so most of the time, it is an easy fix. In case that doesn’t work out, you can try the same fixes you used for internal and external links.

For example, you can use the 301 redirect method to fix URL links and redirect the broken page to a location or to another relevant on your website. Similarly, you can also recreate the content and replace the old page with the new one.

Lastly, you can simply leave the 404 page as it is. However, make sure that the broken page shows a hard 404 instead of a soft 404, which occurs when a web server returns a response code other than a 404 or a 410.

WordPress is one of the largest blogging platforms in the world. According to the latest blogging statistics, about 77 million new posts appear on WordPress every single month. In other words, if you happen to use WordPress, chances are you’ve encountered a 404 error once or twice in your lifetime.

The process of fixing broken links in WordPress is the same as with any other platform. Apart from tools like Google Analytics or a Google broken link checker tool like SEMRush, you can also use a variety of plugins to find broken links in WordPress, such as Broken Link checker, for example.

The moment you install the plugin, it will automatically scan your website for broken links. Moreover, it makes the process of fixing broken links even easier since you can simply hover over any broken link and edit it on the fly.

Broken Link Checker scans your website all the time, which can negatively affect your website’s performance. Therefore, you should make sure to either remove or disable the tool after you are done fixing broken links.

In case you want something similar that doesn’t affect your site performance as much, you can try WP Broken Link Status Checker. Unlike Broken Link Checker, WP Broken Link Status reduces the load on your server by focusing on parts of your website at a time.

If you are running a marketing campaign, you may end up in a situation where the links included in your campaign lead to a broken page. While you can’t do much to fix the links on the email you already said, there are things you can do to remedy the situation.

The first fix is the one you should already know by now, which is to redirect the user. If you are using WordPress, you should use a 301 redirect method. That way, instead of landing on a 404 error page, the link you sent in the email will redirect them to the correct page.

If you don’t want to redirect all the traffic, you can intercept the users with a meaningful popup. Depending on the popup software you decide to use, you can set the popup to trigger specific events. In this case, it would be whenever someone follows the broken link you included in your email.

Instead of them landing on a broken page, you might redirect them to another page and have a popup appear offering them to check a similar product or service you originally advertised in your email campaign.

Even though it is not the best solution, it can save your marketing campaign. Not only will you not have to worry about the negative effects of broken links, but your fix will also help the campaign generate new traffic and new leads, as you originally planned.

Out of all the methods we mentioned, removing links from your site should be the last-ditch effort. A good link-building campaign can give your links credibility, help you get more traffic, improve dwell time, and much more.

Therefore, you should always try to have as many links as possible on your website, without overdoing it, of course. You want the links you include to be meaningful and relevant to the user.

If you want to remove a broken link from a page, you can do it manually. As we mentioned earlier, simply use a tool to help you scan your website and then decide which links you want to remove. If you want to remove an internal or an external link, you can simply unlink the anchor text, and you’re all good to go.

Additionally, you can also remove a broken page that was already indexed by Google with the help of Google Search Console. Once you navigate through the console and find the feature that allows you to remove a page, simply enter the URL of the page you want to be removed, and submit the removal request. It may take a few days for the process to complete, but once done, the page will not appear in any search results.

The Takeaway

As you can see, there is nothing too complicated about fixing broken links. In fact, most of the methods you can use to fix, let’s say, internal links, are the same methods you will use to fix external links.

The only difference is that not all of the methods are always applicable, and the one you should use depends on the type of link you are trying to fix and the problem you’re trying to resolve.

Once you learn how to fix broken links, you will quickly realize that the most difficult aspect is the fact that fixing broken links is time-consuming. However, despite that, you should regularly perform SEO audits and fix any broken links you encounter to ensure everything runs smoothly.

In addition to a wide variety of tools you can use to help identify broken links, you can also give our SerpWatch tool a try. While it can’t help you find broken links just yet, it can help you research keywords, monitor page rankings, and much more, making it an ideal tool for agencies and digital marketers.

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