How to Fix Broken Links in 2023: Complete Guide

Often, one encounters a dead or a broken link when clicking a hyperlink. It leads to a custom 404 page or other HTTP response codes. Needless to say, the occurrence of broken links is a nuisance; it affects the user experience and spoils a website’s search engine rankings.


The Ultimate Guide to Find and Fix Broken Links
How to Fix Broken Links


In this guide, I present you the ultimate information to find and fix broken links.


You won’t need another guide ever!


What are Broken Links?

Links pointing to permanently non-existing pages are called broken links or dangling links or link rot. Broken links can occur either from the user’s side or the hosted server side.


There are three kinds of broken links:


Internal Broken Links:

It is a standard procedure to interlink blog pages with referential content from the same blog. However, if any internal pages are removed but its references on other posts within the same blog are ignored; users will be taken to a 404 page.

Read more: How To Start A Successful Blog - Step by Step Beginner's Guide


Outbound Broken Links:

It is also a prevalent strategy to reference external links on a web page. These links lead to a third-party website on which the web page owner has no control over its existence. When such links are removed permanently, they too show a 404 or server unavailable error.


Inbound Broken Links:

Increasing inbound link count is every website marketer’s dream but when the incoming / inbound links to a website fail to generate a page, it’s called an inbound link error. As the website owner, you would want all the inbound links to be active forever!


There are specific ways to deal with the three kinds of errors.


HTTP Response Codes

It’s essential to know about important HTTP response codes to understand broken links. Otherwise, you might remove links which you shouldn’t.


A successfully processed web page from the server gives 200 HTTP response code. If you redirect any link permanently, it returns a 301 code or a 302 code if the redirect is temporary.

Other codes to keep in mind are:


  • 404 – the requested URL could not be found at the server
  • 503 – the web server is temporarily available
  • 400 – bad request
  • 403 – access forbidden
  • 408 – couldn’t find the web page in time (timeout)
  • 502 – bad gateway
  • 504 – the server couldn’t respond in time (server timeout). 


You can view the complete list of codes at the Status Codes Registry.


Are Broken Links Harmful for Site?

Definitely! Don’t even doubt this.


Broken links are harmful from two perspectives:


The User Perspective:

Users want to see active, well maintained and informative pages. Landing on an unavailable page is loss of traffic and business. Users think the site owner has no care to maintain the site pages and content, which also impacts your online reputation.


The Search Engine Perspective:

See this video. Here, Matt Cutts says that Google doesn’t penalize sites with a large number of broken links simply because there are thousands of such pages. He says it’s best to put up a 404 page and keep the website safe. You can also read this resource page from Moz which says it’s fine to show a page as 404.


However, you never know when the search engine undergoes another algorithm update in future and penalizes sites with excessive broken links or 404 pages. Ignoring this could become a risky venture in future.


Therefore, to prevent any losses, it’s important to find and fix broken links ASAP.


Finding Broken Links

There are many ways to find broken links.


Here are some methods.


Check Google Webmaster Tools (GWT):

If any, you’ll see a list of link errors following this process:


Login > Select Site > Crawl > Crawl Errors


The GWT analysis helps to remove internal broken links. You can do two things here:


  1. You can sort out the error by adding the missing page and mark it as ‘Fixed’.
  2. You can remove the page from Google search by submitting link removal request. The process is: Login > Select Site > Google Index > Remove URL’s.


If you go for the second step, wait for few days to check whether the links were actually removed or not. If not, repeat the process.


BrokenLinkCheck.com:


free online broken link checker


This is a free online broken link checker. Just type in the site URL, enter verification code and let the tool scan the site.


The tool lists all internal and external broken links. It shows which URL’s are broken and its specific location, plus the HTTP response code.


All you need to do is login to the site from backend and remove broken links.


A similar tool is DeadLinkChecker.


Read more: Free Backlink checker tool to check backlinks


Internet Marketing Ninjas Crawl Tool:

This is by far the best free broken links checking tool I have ever come across. You will simply love it!


It’s free scan is for 1000 pages. The tool scans all pages and shows its status, plus HTTP response codes. It shows:


  1. Internal Links: Errors + Redirects
  2. External Links: Errors + Redirects


The report is downloadable as HTTP file or you can get it emailed after scan completes.


Check from Browser:

Chrome browser users should install the Check my Links extension. It adds the extension on the Chrome toolbar. Visit any page and click on the extension. It scans all the present links and shows the active and broken ones separately.


The Ultimate Guide to Find and Fix Broken Links


Link Checker is the recommended add-on for Mozilla Firefox browser users. It works similarly to the Chrome extension. If you’re a Mac OS user, install the Integrity broken link checker.


Fixing Broken Links

Prepare a list of broken links and line them for removal. Here’s what you should do:


  • Internal Broken Links: Either fix the pages or remove them wherever they appear.
  • External Broken Links: Not every external link needs to be removed. If the response code shows, let’s say, 408 or 504 error codes, you shouldn’t remove it instantly but wait for few days, revisit the link and remove if it shows the same error. A blog often see dead links in the comments system. Removing the dead links is a must.
  • Inbound Broken Links: Since you don’t have any control over the inbound links, unless you manually curated those links via guest blogging or paid advertisements, the best you can do is contact the webmaster enquiring the reason for the missing link/s


If they are reinstated, well and good but if not, use the Google disavow tool because you don’t want dead links pointing to your domain, especially the 404 errors. Here’s a really good guide on using the disavow tool.




Read more: How to Get High Quality Backlinks in 2022


Conclusion

Do not ignore broken links. Depending on your site activities, keep monitoring either bi-weekly or monthly. It hardly takes more than an hour to get everything sorted.


In the end, I tell you that you should pay attention to me on page SEO and Off page SEO . Because it is an important factor in the search results

Do leave your comments below. I would love to know your system or experience in dealing with broken links.

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