Broken links break our hearts 💔
A broken link is a hyperlink on a website that no longer works because it points to a destination page that has been removed or relocated. Hyperlinking to external and internal content has long been known to be an SEO best practice. However, as these links age, the possibility that they become broken increases as external sites are shut down or internal pages are deleted. Newer site administrators might incorrectly configure the links, changing them to point to a page that no longer exists.
However they come to be there, broken links are definitely an unwelcome guest on any website.
The history of broken links can be traced all the way back to the beginning of the internet. When the Web was a much smaller place, there were fewer websites and fewer links. However, the web rapidly grew, and older websites retired. This led to a growing number of broken links across the internet. To this day, broken links remain a problem for all websites, though they are of special concern to larger, older sites.
The problem with broken links
One of the biggest problems with broken links is that they can give your site a negative SEO ranking because of their impact on the user experience. This can lead to higher bounce rates and lower engagement, dragging down your SEO performance.
SEO ranking is further reduced by the fact that broken links trigger the search engine bots crawling your site to attempt to scan unreachable destinations, wasting the resources of the search engine. This is why optimization specialists will often direct their clients to check for broken links, as they are one of the biggest culprits to watch out for when a site is poorly indexed and ranked.
Finding broken links
In the past, website owners had to search through all their pages, checking for and manually fixing broken links. This can be a simple enough task on a smaller website, but at larger scales, this task becomes monumental.
Fortunately, there are many tools available to help website owners fix broken links. Broken link checkers and SEO software platforms can automatically scan your website for broken links, ensuring that they are found and fixed quickly and easily. Tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush, and Screaming Frog are great for this.
Fixing broken links
Once found, the simplest solution to fixing a broken link is merely rewriting the URL to ensure the link is pointing to a valid destination (i.e., a working page). If the link was to external content, you will need to do some research to find a relevant similar article and then change the link to point to the correct reference point.
Another option is to reach out and contact the website owner of the broken link. Ask that they can update the link so that you can continue referencing it on your own website.
Ultimately, broken links can have a major impact on SEO and user experience. However, they are a fairly easy problem to fix. Always check for broken links in your new content and be sure to stay on top of this issue to ensure that it never becomes a major problem for your website.
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