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27
How Broken Links Affect SEO and What To Do About It
Posted by Matt Kinne on 27 June 2016 10:22 AM

A website is much like a car; it requires routine maintenance to keep it up and running without issues. If you forgo that maintenance, it could end up costing you more time and money. One area of routine maintenance that we strongly recommend is checking for broken links. It is something we do monthly and we’ll explain why.

What is a broken link?

To start things off, there are two types of links: internal and external. Internal links stay on your website; for example, a link on your About Us page that links to your Contact Us page. External links are links that go to a destination outside of your website; for example to Google, Facebook, or Twitter.

Internal links are a lot easier to fix, since they are on your website only and you can control them. When it comes to external links, you are at the mercy of who you are linking to. If a web page you are linking to removes a page completely or changes the URL without setting up a 301 redirect, you will run into a broken link.

Broken links are:

  • A link on a web page that no longer works

  • A bad URL (mistyped) or

  • The destination page was removed and now shows a 404 error

Broken Link Illustration

This is just a normal part of having a website. So the question you’re probably thinking is how does broken links affect my SEO and how can I fix it?

Do broken links really affect SEO and how important is it to fix?

Well unfortunately there isn’t a measure of how much it truly affects your SEO, but the more broken links you have the worse your site will be ranked. When Google’s bots crawl your website, the bots determine the usability by checking a number of factors, including broken links among other things. Broken links without proper redirects result in a poor usability score, which drags down your SEO. If Google’s crawlers come across a broken link, it could halt the crawling process, meaning that page might not be indexed, so it won’t be found on search engines.

How do I find my broken links?

This task may sound difficult at first, but there are plenty of third-party tools to cut-down on your effort. If you are on WordPress, we recommend the Broken Link checker plug-in by Vladimir Prelovac. It is very effective and runs real-time checks for broken links, no need for running your own scan. If you aren’t on WordPress, a good site to use is www.brokenlinkcheck.com. It is a free online tool that will locate broken links on your site and point you to exactly where they are.

I found my broken links, how do I fix them?

URL Redirect

We will start off with external links first. These ones are totally out of your control as a website owner, so there are a couple different approaches you can take. You can either remove the link completely, or try to find the new location of the page you had previously linked.

Internal links are much easier because they are completely under your control. Once you have found your broken links, change the link to new URL. Once the new URL is entered, Google might still find the old link. This is where 301 redirects come in. A 301 redirect tells web browsers and search engines that a web page or site has been permanently redirected to a new location.

There are many ways to enact a 301 redirect, so we’ll cover the easy way first. If you are on a WordPress site, the easiest way to go about it is to install the plug-in called Simple 301 Redirects by Scott Nelle. If you are on a different web platform, there is a website called Rapid Tables which has a 301 redirect code generator. It can generate a 301 redirect for PHP, ASP, ASP.NET, HTML, JavaScript, and the .htaccess file.

Be cautious of adding 301 redirects, especially if you are editing your .htaccess file. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us, we’d love to help.

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