I’m sure we have all been there and become highly frustrated about broken links at some point when we are browsing the internet. For example, you have found a really great article, blog, or piece of research, and as soon as you click on an available link, BOOM!! You have hit a brick wall. OK so it’s not a brick wall but that link that looks very intriguing, wanting you to find out more is non-existent. Or more commonly it takes you to a page that apologises because the page has either been moved or is no longer accessible.
The error page should give enough information for your visitor to find what they are looking for, but this is not the ideal situation. Aside from the inconvenience it poses for your visitors, a broken link is also a potentially wasted search engine opportunity. Links (especially from credible sources) can help your site increase its search engine reputation, which can lead to higher rankings and more traffic.
Imagine, if this is annoying for you this can be equally annoying for your website visitors and potential customers. It is a big sign of being unprofessional and leaves the user with a bad experience. Furthermore, search engines such as Google have made a note of it.
One of the webmaster guidelines published by Google clearly states that all broken links should be addressed. Broken links will not only give you a bad reputation with future customers but will also downgrade your relationship with Google to a point where it can affect your ranking on search engines. Google in particular aims to ensure every visitor receives a great website experience and unfortunately, they will try and prevent website traffic to a website that has too many broken links.
The most effective way to ensure you have no broken links is to check your website content on a regular basis ensuring that none of the links have been moved or removed.
The easiest way is to access a broken link checker tool on the website. There are plenty of tools available including a WordPress Plug-in if your website is run from WordPress. Once installed, the plug-in will search through all your content and look for links. Depending on the size of your website this may take a couple of minutes or possibly an hour. Through your dashboard, the broken link checker will identify any links that need rectifying. It’s as simple as that!
Google Webmaster tools also provide effective ways of locating broken links quickly and with ease.
If you do happen to find any broken links, FIX THEM AS SOON AS YOU CAN! Don’t wait for Google to find them.
From an SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) perspective, if you were to change a URL and consequently created a broken link, this could also adversely affect your rankings as previously mentioned. Use a broken link checker as soon as you make any changes, however minor to your URLs.
Use a broken link checker regularly to maintain the reputation you deserve.