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How to Fix Broken Links on a Website: Step-by-Step Guide

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Imagine you’re browsing a website brimming with interesting articles. You click on a link that piques your curiosity, eager to delve deeper. But instead of landing on the promised content, you’re greeted with a frustrating error message: “404 Page Not Found.” Ugh! Broken links not only disrupt the user experience but also hurt your website’s search engine ranking.

Fear not, fellow website owners! This guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools to identify and fix broken links on your website, ensuring a smooth and seamless experience for your visitors and search engine crawlers alike.

Finding Broken Links: Shining a Light on the Dark Corners

The first step is to diagnose the problem. There are several ways to identify broken links on your website. Here are two popular methods:

1. Web-Based SEO Audit Tools:

The internet is a treasure trove of free and paid SEO audit tools that can scan your website for a variety of issues, including broken links. These tools are incredibly user-friendly. Simply enter your website URL, hit scan, and voila! You’ll receive a report detailing all the broken links on your site.

ahrefs report

ahrefs report

Pro Tip: Popular options include SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Screaming Frog.

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2. Manual Review:

While SEO audit tools are efficient, sometimes a good old-fashioned manual review can’t be beat. Methodically go through your website, clicking on every single link. This might be time-consuming for larger sites, but it allows you to not only identify broken links but also assess the overall quality and relevance of your internal linking structure.

Fixing Broken Links: Taking Back Control

Now that you’ve identified the broken links, it’s time to mend the fences! Here’s how to tackle them:

1. Internal Links (Those Pointing to Pages Within Your Website):

There are three main ways to deal with broken internal links:

  • Redirect: If the page with the broken link still exists on your website, but just at a different URL, you can implement a redirect. This tells the visitor’s browser and search engines that the original URL has moved to a new location. Think of it as leaving a forwarding address! Redirects are crucial for maintaining SEO juice and user experience.

  • Update the Link: Sometimes, the broken link might be due to a simple typo. Double-check the URL and update it to the correct destination. This is a quick fix that can be done directly through your content management system (CMS).

  • Remove the Link: If the linked page no longer exists or isn’t relevant anymore, the cleanest solution might be to remove the link altogether. This prevents users from encountering dead ends and ensures the focus remains on valuable content.

2. External Links (Those Pointing to Other Websites):

For external links, the process is slightly different. Here’s what to do:

  • Verify the Link: Just because a link returns a 404 error doesn’t necessarily mean the page is gone forever. The website might be experiencing temporary technical difficulties. Try the link again in a few days.

  • Update the Link: If the link is genuinely broken, consider reaching out to the website owner and informing them about the issue. They might appreciate the heads-up and fix the link on their end.

  • Remove the Link: If contacting the website owner isn’t feasible or the page seems permanently gone, remove the link to maintain a clean and up-to-date website.

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Proactive Prevention: Keeping Broken Links at Bay

Here are some practices to keep broken links under control:

  • Regular Website Audits: Schedule regular website audits, ideally monthly or quarterly, to proactively identify and fix broken links before they become a user experience nightmare.

  • Internal Linking Best Practices: When creating internal links, prioritize clear and descriptive anchor text (the clickable text) that accurately reflects the content on the linked page. This makes it easier for users and search engines to understand the context of the link.

  • Monitoring New Content: When adding new content to your website, make sure all the links within that content are functional and point to the intended destinations.

  • CMS Updates: Stay updated with your CMS’s latest versions. Developers often include bug fixes and security patches that can address potential broken link issues.

Conclusion: A Healthy Website is a Happy Website (and User!)

By fixing broken links, you’re not just improving user experience but also sending positive signals to search engines. Remember, a well-maintained website with functional links is a website that thrives. So, roll up your sleeves, grab your metaphorical toolbox, and get ready to banish those pesky broken links for good!

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Rama Runov Riguntila

Seasoned digital marketing expert with a track record of success in devising and implementing comprehensive digital strategies.

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