Getting to a website page and getting a 404 error message is so annoying. No one likes to deal with broken links – and we ESPECIALLY don’t want them on our OWN website. Not only does it make for an annoying user experience, it can also kinda tell Google that you’re not doing a good job of maintaining your website. And we want to BOOST our SEO – not make it worse. So what can we do about broken links?! Lemme show ya!
First, how do you know a link is broken?
A link will become “broken” because the page no longer exists – and they can either happen within your website (say, for example, you’ve moved a page to a different home) or they can be links that are sending visitors to other people’s websites.
Say you have a media page on your website showcasing all of the podcast episodes you’ve been a guest on – and one of those episode links no longer exists (for whatever reason – maybe the podcast host changed domain names or changed the permalink). That link will become broken – and that’s an outbound link.
A broken inbound link is a link to your own website. Maybe you changed the title of a blog post and in doing so you also changed the permalink. Whatever the reason, the link is now broken and won’t bring your website viewers to the correct location.
How do you find broken links?
With the tool Dead Link Checker, you can paste your URL and the tool will review up to 2000 links on your website for free and tell you which of them are broken, and what’s wrong with them.
To hear more about what the statuses of these links mean, watch the video on YouTube!
So, how do we fix them?!
Fixing broken outbound links
If you have a broken link that’s going to a website that is not your own, you have a couple of options:
1. Find and link to the new page
If somebody simply moved the page that you’re trying to link to, find the new location for that page, and then update the link on your website so that it goes to the new location.
2. Remove or replace the link
If that person has removed the piece of content from their site entirely and it no longer exists, you can either:
A). Remove it entirely, or
B). Find something else that’s relevant and link to that website instead so you know that the link works. (This will give you that external credibility to prove that you’ve done your homework!)
Fixing broken inbound links
What if the broken links are linking to your website?
(Pssst! This is why it’s really important to not move things around your website without having a plan for telling Google and your website the new location that you’re moving them to. It’s like when you move your house and you go to the USPS and you fill out a “change of address” form.)
The change of address form as we use it on our websites is called a redirect – and almost all the time when we’re moving pages permanently from one URL to another, we’re going to use what’s called a 301 redirect.
If you’re on WordPress, there are a lot of plugins that you can use for 301 redirections. I personally just use RankMath for all of my SEO-related things on WordPress – and it has a redirection functionality right in there. I also know that Squarespace allows you to do this as well. If you’re using a different platform and you’re trying to set up a redirect, you can simply Google, “how to do 301 redirect on [platform]”.
Wait, should I be deleting content, or updating it?
If you’re wondering if you should be deleting content from your website, it’s usually a better choice to update it instead of removing it entirely. So don’t just delete things from your website without a plan for either
A). How to update them, or
B). How to redirect them
Yes- I know. Going through your broken links can be a bit boring. But it’s not difficult, just tedious. So put on your favorite show or listen to your favorite playlist or podcast, and go nuts with updating your old, broken links.