So, it comes as no surprise that they’ll often then leave your website and look for the information they need elsewhere.
Under “Errors”, you can check if you have any broken internal links, as shown below:
Broken internal links can have a spiral effect on your site, like this…
Luckily, you don’t have to manually click on every individual link on your domain to check if they’re broken or not. There is a wide range of tools you can use to determine the current health of your internal, external and inbound links.
You could go a step further by clicking on an individual link. After which, a window to the right should appear. In this window, hit “Inspect URL”:
It is frustrating to click on one thing and to be led to another thing, after all.
If you follow a broken link, you’ll most often encounter a 404 Page Not Found error. This is a generic error that says the page isn’t available for now, but it might return at some point.
In this case, you would need to look for an alternative source and replace the external link with it. Hopefully, the information you need is available elsewhere. If not, consider removing the section from your copy.
How to Find and Fix Broken Links (5 Methods)
Take a look:
Misspelled URL: Of course, if you misspelled the URL of the page you’re linking to, the link isn’t going to work. It could be a simple typo, or maybe:
You forgot to include the “ or “ part of the URL.
You included an extra space in the URL. The page you are linking to might have a misspelling in its URL.
Updated URL: As mentioned above, maybe one of your pages had a misspelled URL, so maybe you decided to change it to get rid of the typo. If you didn’t set up a redirect before making the change, any links (both backlinks and internal links) pointing to the old, now incorrect URL will now appear broken. If you’re dealing with an external link, it could be that the other site has changed the URL of the content you were linking to, or removed the page.
Lost Pages: Although somewhat rarer than previous causes, it could be that some of your pages were lost or renamed if you’ve done a website migration.
Firewall or Geolocation Restrictions: It could be that the link isn’t broken to everyone, but instead is only accessible from certain parts of the world. I’m sure you’ve seen the “This video is not available in your country” error on YouTube, right? Sometimes, content is blocked internationally to comply with local laws.
Moved Content: Your link to a video or document might be broken if the file has been either removed from the server or moved to another location.
The Site is Down: This can affect all types of links—depending on whether it’s your site that’s down or the external site. If you have one broken external (or inbound) link, it could be that the entire site you’re linking to (or that your link is from) is down. However, if NO links to your site are working, your entire site is possibly down. You don’t need me to tell you that you’ll need to remedy this ASAP before you experience a huge loss in traffic and rankings.
Change in URL Structure: If you’ve recently changed the URL structure of your site but haven’t implemented 301 redirects, your internal and inbound links to these pages will be broken. For example, if you’re changing to https://www.example.com/products/category/product-name You’ll need to set up 301 redirects to reflect the changes so that search engines and users land on the new page when following a link. Types of Broken Links
The best way to do this would be to create a custom 404 error page that includes a contact form. Or, you could provide instructions on how to report a broken link, such as an email address web users can reach you by.
How to Fix Broken Links
Remember those unhappy users I mentioned above? Well, they’re bouncing off your site faster than you can say “broken links,” which increases your bounce rate and lowers the time on site.
Again, I currently don’t have any internal or external link issues, so don’t have anything to fix.
And under “Warnings”, you can review external links your page currently has:
Crawl budget refers to the amount of time crawlers spend on your page. They don’t have enough to make it around your entire domain, so you better make the most important pages as accessible as possible for them.
Note: If after selecting “Page path and screen class” Google Analytics displays “No data available”, you could create your own custom report on Google Analytics 4.
If your situation does fit the above examples, you can insert a 301 redirect on WordPress using a redirection plugin, such as RankMath. Alternatively, 301s can be inserted using .htaccess, Nginx, or PHP. The benefit of using a 301 redirect is that most of your ranking power gets passed over to the new page (if you insert it correctly, that is).
This gives you a clearer idea of why the link leads to a 404 error page, and how you can fix it later.
Find Broken Internal & External Links Using Semrush
Next, scroll down to the bottom of the page where you’ll find data on all your URLs.
Once you’ve logged into GSC, select or add the property you wish to audit for broken links.
301 redirect is the most complicated fix, but it could be the best option for SEO purposes.
You’ll then be shown all the instances of 404 errors within your domain:
You’ll then be able to see and review all the backlinks that lead to an error page on your site.
Encourage User Feedback and Reporting
So, before you insert one, be sure that you definitely want to redirect users to the chosen location forever. Or, use a 302 if you plan on restoring the original page at some point down the line.
Broken External Links
If a user clicks on a broken link, they’ll land on one of the error pages listed above. We’ve all been there, it’s pretty much the worst thing that can happen when you’re visiting a site, right?
Broken links create a negative user experience. But you can encourage users who do find broken links on your domain to alert you about them. This way, at least the users know that you’re trying your best to create a user-friendly website.
For your backlinks, you’ll want to keep a regular eye on their quality as well as whether or not they are active.
Bonus Tip: Broken Link Building
Ready to fix those links? Let’s get to it!
What Are Broken Links?
On a budget? You can find broken links for free using Google Analytics.
If your situation
doesn’t fit either of the above examples, you shouldn’t insert a 301. A 301 that leads to an irrelevant page can damage your rankings and ruin your user experience.
To find broken backlinks, you can use Semrush’s Backlink Audit tool.
How To Find And Fix Broken Internal Links
So, broken internal links can have indirect results on your site’s SEO. Broken external and inbound links can also have more direct results, by suggesting to Google that your site is old and not maintained.
Tick the “Target URL error” box:
You can also use Google Search Console to detect broken links. Best of all: Google Search Console (GSC) is also free to use.
Scroll to the bottom of this page to the section titled “Why pages aren’t indexed” and click on “Not Found (404)”, as shown below:
Here’s what you can do about them:
Internal & External Links
You’re not alone if you’ve got some broken links on your site. It’s actually pretty common, perhaps because there are SO many causes.
However, please note: 301 redirects are permanent, unlike 302s.
If you’ve identified instances of internal/external links, its time for you to fix them.
Instead of scrolling through all issues, you can simply search for “broken”.
This is a huge red flag for Google. Why are people leaving your pages so quickly? Is your content terrible and not relevant to their search intent?
How To Find Broken Links And Broken Backlinks That Hurt Your SEO [OSEO-08]
Remember at the start I told you I’d show you how you can use broken links to your advantage? Well, here it is: broken link building.
Broken links are essentially links that don’t take you to the intended page. Backlinks, internal links, and external links can all be broken. No matter which type of broken link you’re dealing with, they have some common causes:
What Causes A Link To “Break”?
If you find you have lots of errors, you could export this data to an Excel spreadsheet, or a CSV file.
How to Find Broken Backlinks
You should use a 301 redirect if you’ve moved a page; or, if you’ve stopped selling a product or service, but have a similar product/service on another page.
After you launch a backlink audit, the main dashboard will give you a general idea of how many broken backlinks you have. As shown here:
There are two types of links that you, as a webmaster, have direct control over – internal and external links.
To use Site Audit, add the website you want to analyze as a new project in Semrush.
If you’re linking to a lot of pages that have since been removed, it would seem that your content isn’t up-to-date anymore. Similarly, if you have a lot of broken inbound links, webmasters have perhaps found better, more recent pages to link to than yours.
You can set Semrush’s Site Audit to automatically run daily or weekly (on a day of your choosing) instead of just once so you don’t need to try and remember when to do it. As if that wasn’t convenient enough, you have the option to have the report emailed to you every time an audit is complete, too.
It’s not quite as simple to fix a broken backlink as it is to fix a broken link on your site, as you’ll generally need to contact the referring domain’s webmaster and ask them to update it for you.
Of course, we never want our site visitors to leave unsatisfied, but it could really be doing more harm than you think. Once they’ve had a negative experience on your site once, they might think twice about visiting it again—lowering your reputation.
You’ll then be shown a rundown of the data Google has on the link, as shown here:
How to Find and Fix Broken Links on Your Website
For more information, head over to the “Target Pages” tab:
Google considers internal links a
key ranking factor, so you don’t need me to tell you that looking after them is pretty darn important.
How to Find and Fix Broken Links with Semrush
The bottom line is, if your pages aren’t indexed, they’re not going to rank. So, all that effort you spent into creating a killer piece of content isn’t going to get you any results (rankings, traffic, and subsequent conversions) if Google can’t find and index it.
I’d recommend exporting this data to a spreadsheet if you have lots of 404 errors. This way, you can easily review which links need fixing and tick them off as you go.
How to find broken links using Google Search Console
First, head over to “Reports”. Click on “Engagement” on the left-hand side, and then “Pages and screens” from the drop-down menu, as shown below:
Removing the link is also an option. If the link is no longer needed, simply take it out. This could be the case if you’ve updated the content on either the page containing the link or the page being linked to. Inserting a 301 redirect
If you find that the page you linked to no longer exists, you should remove the link. But what if the external link added a significant amount of value to your site? For example, perhaps it acted as a source for the facts and figures used in your copy.
This guide will show you exactly how to identify and fix these links, whether they’re backlinks or links within your content. I’ll show you:
What causes links to ‘break’
Why they’re so harmful for your site
How to identify them with tools like Semrush, including a simple step-by-step guide
And, most importantly, how to fix them, so your SEO efforts can be restored
Google also allocates what’s known as crawl budget.
All of that from just one little typo in a URL—now you can see why it’s so worth your time to look after your links!
While Google Analytics 4 gives you some data on broken links, it’s not as comprehensive as the likes of Semrush’s Site Audit tool.
This is a super useful link building technique that allows you to make the most of your competitors’ broken links AND offer the webmasters something useful in return—a valuable page to link to.
There are three ways to fix broken internal links: Redirects, updating the link, or removing the link.
Updating or removing
It’s not the only 4xx status code that indicates a broken link, however:
400 Bad Request: These arise when the host server doesn’t understand the URL on your page, usually due to a syntax error or invalid request. For example, if you are trying to link to a page with the URL https://www.example.com/products/product123 But instead, you use https://www.example.com/products/product123/ When linking to the page, you’ll find a 400 error when trying to follow the link.
410 Gone: This is similar to a 404 error, as it indicates that the resource you are linking to is no longer available on the server. However, unlike a 404 which essentially says “although this page isn’t available right now, we’re not sure if it will be back or not”, a 410 says “this page is never coming back.”
You can’t be expected to find all the broken links yourself, can you?
Make sure you select “page title and screen class” from the drop-down menu below the search bar. You also need to add the secondary dimension “page path and screen class”, as shown below:
But that’s not all.
I’ve even got a bonus tip that shows you how broken links (well, your competitors’ anyway) can actually be advantageous.
Broken links are a surefire way to destroy your credibility and waste your SEO efforts, but thankfully, they’re pretty easy to fix.
In this demonstration, I’ll show you how to use Google Analytics 4 to find broken links, as Universal Analytics (the previous generation of Google Analytics) is due to be phased out on July 1st, 2023.
Once you’ve found your broken links, it’s time to fix them. The process differs slightly depending on whether you’re fixing broken links on your site (internal and external links) or to your site (backlinks).
You can identify these links in much the same way as you found your own broken backlinks on Semrush; just plug your competitors’ domains into the tool instead of your own.
Once you’ve found a good opportunity, reach out to the webmaster and suggest they link to your page on the same topic instead. Congratulations, you just stole some link juice from your competitor!
Firstly, check that you’ve typed out the external link correctly. An extra digit, letter, or dash could send users to a 404 page. If the page you intended to link towards is actually still live, copy and paste its URL over again to ensure accuracy.
404, 400, and 410 errors all have a negative effect on both user experience and SEO, as I’ll show you next. However, as 410s are a sign of permanently removed content, search engines may treat these even more negatively than 400 or 404 errors.
The Dangers of Broken Links
I’d recommend premium tools first and foremost, such as Semrush’s Site Audit or the Backlink Audit tool. You can also use Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider, SEO PowerSuite’s Link Assistant, or the Broken Link Checker.
I told you above how much harm broken links can do to your site, so it should come as no surprise that you’ll want to check for these issues pretty regularly.
Well, you should be responsible for finding the vast majority. However, for whatever reason, some may slip your grasp.
Well, it is pretty simple in that you just have to email them, but it’s all about wording it correctly.
And that’s not all; multiple 400 errors suggest to Google poor website maintenance, and also hinder search engine crawling and indexing.
Updating is the simplest fix; if there’s a typo in the URL, you just need to swap it out for the correct URL and the link will work as expected. Of course, this method only works if a misspelled URL was the cause of the broken link!
However, if you did find you had issues, you can click on the error number and title (for example, “3 internal links”) and find out where these errors are.