Have you ever clicked on a link only to be met with an error message or a dead-end page? These frustrating encounters are known as broken links. But what is a broken link exactly?
In simple terms, a broken link is an HTML hyperlink that leads to non-existent or inaccessible web pages. Users clicking on such links get redirected to an error page, usually displaying a 404 error message.
In this blog post, we will delve into the relevance of broken links, why they occur, how they affect SEO, and most importantly, how you can fix them.
Understanding broken links
Understanding broken links is crucial as they can adversely affect both WordPress site users and owners. For users, broken links lead to a poor browsing experience. It hampers their ability to access the desired information or explore your content effectively, potentially driving them away from your website.
For website owners, broken links pose several challenges. They can negatively impact user satisfaction, decreasing dwell time on the site and overall organic traffic. Moreover, broken links can tarnish a website’s reputation and credibility, resulting in lost opportunities for engagement and conversions.
Common link error codes
When a web server encounters a broken link, it returns an error code to indicate the specific issue. Familiarizing yourself with common error codes can help you understand the root causes of broken links.
404 Not Found
This error code signifies that the requested webpage could not be found. It often occurs when a page has been deleted, moved, or renamed without implementing proper redirects.
This error code indicates that the user does not have permission to access the requested page. It could be due to inadequate user privileges or restricted access settings.
Unlike the 404 error, the 410 error indicates that the page has been permanently removed and will not be available again. It is crucial to update or remove links pointing to pages returning this error code.
500 Internal Server Error
This error code denotes an issue with the web server itself, preventing it from fulfilling the request. It could be a result of server misconfigurations or temporary technical difficulties.
How broken links affect SEO
Broken links have a direct impact on your website’s SEO performance.
Broken links create dissatisfaction and hinder navigation, leading to a negative user experience. This can increase bounce rates and signal to search engines that your website may not provide valuable content.
Search engine crawling
Search engine bots follow links to discover and index web pages. Broken links disrupt this process, preventing proper indexing and potentially causing relevant pages to be overlooked.
Search engines use various factors to determine page rankings, and broken links can impact your website’s authority and credibility. They may result in lower rankings, reducing your visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).
How to fix broken links
To find and fix broken links effectively, you can utilize a powerful tool like the WordPress plugin Broken Link Checker.
Step 1: Install and activate the Broken Link Checker plugin from the WordPress plugin directory.
Step 2: Run a scan of your website to identify broken links across your content, including internal and external links.
Step 3: Review the generated report. It provides details about the broken links, such as their location and the pages they originate from.
Step 4: Edit or remove the broken links directly from the plugin’s interface. Alternatively, update the URLs to redirect to the correct pages or replace them with valid alternatives.
Step 5: Save the changes. The plugin will automatically update the links on your website, ensuring a seamless user experience.
Conclusion: what is a broken link?
Broken links negatively impact both website users and owners, leading to a poor browsing experience, lower search engine rankings, and other issues. Now that you know what is a broken link and how to use the Broken Link Checker plugin, you can enhance user satisfaction, retain visitors, and bolster your website’s performance in the digital landscape.