What are broken links and how do they occur?

“Broken links” occur when a link on a website sends people to resources that no longer exist.

These resources can include websites, documents, images and/or videos, located on the same website (or internal network) or externally on a different website.

There are two reasons why broken links exist:

1) For internal backlinks, the link URL was either entered incorrectly or an internal page has been moved or removed.
2) For external backlinks, the resource being linked to has either moved to another location online or was deleted – referred to as “link rot”.

A person will receive an error message when they experience a broken link, which is referred to as a “404 error” or just a “404”.

Why do broken links matter for SEO?

There are technical and experiential benefits gained when you fix broken links on your website.

Technically speaking, broken links make crawling and indexing a website more difficult for search engine crawlers.

Google and others search engines frown upon this because broken links  lead to poor user experiences for site visitors and can negatively impacts a potential customer’s  perception of your brand.

This is why you need to address every broken link on your site by fixing it and then requesting Google to re-crawl your site.

How do I correct broken links on my site?

Broken links can harm your website’s SEO. So you are likely wondering how to fix broken links on your site.

Repairing broken links is one of the first steps to take in optimizing your site and includes replacing or removing all broken links (internal and external).

First, you will need to identify any and all broken links on your website. There are several tools available to check for broken links. We recommend the free tool from ahrefs – https://ahrefs.com/broken-link-checker.

The next step would be to locate those pages in your website editor and remove each broken link, or you can update each to the correct, functioning URL.

Once completed and verified, you should then request search engines to re-crawl your site. If you are familiar with Google Search Console, this is where you would request the crawl.