Several times, you might have seen that while you are carefully surfing a website, you get a 404 error. The 404 error is displayed when you click a broken link. So moving ahead let’s see what are broken links.
What are Broken Links?
A dead or broken link is a link that redirects to nowhere. When the broken links are internal, it is generally because of two reasons:
- The website has been either renamed or moved, its structure has changed, and internal links weren’t changed correspondingly.
- The linked content has been deleted or moved.
Seldom, the dead links are external. That signifies that the links lead to nowhere takes outside your website. This is generally the outcome of linking to third-parties that have deleted or moved their content. Another probable reason for the cause for both internal and external broken links can just be a typing error. These are created more possibly by not optimizing page slugs, yourwebsite.com/products/abc will be quite simpler to type accurately (and easy to remember) than yourwebsite.com/products/ (a series of random letters and numbers).
Now let’s see how dead links could harm customer experience and affect SEO.
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How broken links can harm your client experience
Dead links can be an obstacle in converting visitors to potential customers. Imagine that a dead link appears at a key point where it impedes us from making a purchase. A link that is broken can never be beneficial in fact, it will translate into an awful customer experience. For instance, your company’s biggest competitive advantage is your expertise, and you need to link to a resource that will help your clients resolve a issue while explaining that you know what you are speaking about. And then, your website user instead of finding the great resource that you assured, find a 404, they will feel disappointed, not engaged, or ready to have faith in your business. Dead links can make a website seem to be unreliable and confusing, therefore can reflect a poor image of our brand.
How broken links can negatively impact SEO
Broken links not only negatively affect customer experience but also affect SEO. Search engines have a purpose to provide users most relevant and trustworthy pages as topmost in SERP rankings. Hence a website that contains links that lead to nowhere and is incomplete won’t perform as better as the one that offers smooth navigations and fulfills commitments. In short, search engine algorithms’ ranking criteria can be described in two words: User Experience.
On the contrary, if a backlink (a link to your website on a third party’s site) is broken, it has no influence on your site’s authority. Your link building efforts will be neutralized by broken links. SEO experts normally symbolize or refer it as “spilling link juice.”
Now, as we understood the harm that broken links can create on our website, the next question, obviously, is “how to fix broken links?”
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How to Fix Dead Links
Fixing broken links is very simple. The best choice will be based on the kind and the intent of the link. For example, if redirected to an external resource that complimented our content, we can delete the link, while leaving the anchor text. Or else we could additionally utilize the similar anchor text to lead your users to a different website.
If the dead links are internal, we should set 301 redirects. A 301 redirect means that the page in question has been permanently moved. If you use WordPress, you can easily set 301 redirects with a plugin like Redirection or 301 Redirects.
In the end, at some point of time, a user will land on a 404 error page. The reason for it might be because of a typing error in their counterpart. However, you can make use of 404 pages.
A 404 is an HTTP standard response code that signifies that the server could not look for the requested resource. Fundamentally, there’s no technical problem other than the server not able to look for resources what you requested.
Several SEO experts used to recommend that, rather than using 404, we should use 302 redirects. 302 redirects tells Google that the URL in query is temporarily not available, and automatically points your users to another page. For example, we may redirect users to our homepage.
302s are neither ideal for SEO nor for the users. In Google’s perspective, they don’t have same value as the original content. It will be quite confusing for your users, when you redirect a specific page to your homepage.
I hope this article would help you know what broken links are and how you can fix them. Additionally, you can read this article on “What is SEO Spam and How to Protect Your Website?“