Broken Links: What Are They & Why Do They Matter So Much?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  10/12/2022

Get my secret blogging tips and all of my templates for absolutely FREE with my email course and newsletter.

We'll only use your email address for our newsletter and respect your privacy

I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. More information

Broken links are links to web pages that temporarily or permanently don’t work anymore. When trying to visit the webpage, it can’t load, resulting in an error.

Broken links are bad for the user experience of your site, because you said the visitor could find more information by clicking a particular link, only to go to a page that can’t load.

This bad user experience also results in a decline in web traffic from search engines.

What are broken links

Google in particular is using user experience signals in their ranking algorithm and also can detect pages with lots of errors.

Fixing broken links might give you a boost in ranking.

Broken links get worse over time because of link rot. That’s where over time, more and more web pages are removed from websites or moved to a different URL, or the websites we link to cease to exist altogether.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the world of broken links – from understanding their causes to preventing future occurrences.

Broken links, also known as dead links, are hyperlinks that no longer lead to a valid web page. They can be found on websites, in emails, or even in documents like PDFs. Broken links can harm user experience and search engine rankings.

Definition of Broken Links

A broken link is an inactive hyperlink that points to a webpage or file that has been moved or deleted from its original location.

When clicked, the link will take the user to an error page instead of the intended destination.

This type of issue is commonly referred to as “link rot” due to its tendency for old pages and files to become outdated over time.

Examples of Broken Links

An example of a broken link would be if you click on a URL within an email message, but it leads you nowhere because the website has been taken down since then.

Another example could be if someone shared your blog post from last year, but now when they click on it, they get redirected to an error page because you changed your domain name since then and forgot about updating all your backlinks accordingly.

There are several reasons why broken links occur, such as typos while entering URLs manually, changes in website structure, out-of-date content, incorrect redirects, and server errors.

Additionally, many websites use dynamic URLs, which means they change frequently; this can result in any external links pointing towards them becoming obsolete without being updated regularly by their owners.

Broken links can cause serious problems for niche websites, so it is important to understand what they are and how to prevent them. Next, let’s look at how broken links can affect SEO.

Key Takeaway: Broken links can harm user experience and search engine rankings. It is important to regularly check for broken links, as they can be caused by typos while entering URLs manually, changes in website structure, out-of-date content, incorrect redirects, and server errors.

Why Are Broken Links Important for SEO?

Broken links are an important part of SEO because they can affect the user experience and search engine rankings.

When a link is broken, the page or content it was linking to no longer exists or has been moved to another location.

This can be frustrating for users who are trying to access information on your website, as well as for search engines that may have indexed the page but now cannot find it.

Search engines use broken links when evaluating websites to determine their quality and relevance.

Suppose there are too many broken links on a single page. In that case, this could indicate that the site is either neglected or abandoned, leading Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines to rank it lower than other sites with fewer issues.

Additionally, if visitors encounter too many dead ends while navigating your website, they will likely leave without engaging further – resulting in higher bounce rates and lower rankings from search engines.

Marketers should make sure that all of their internal links work properly by regularly checking them using tools such as Screaming Frog or Broken Link Checker, both free services available online.

Additionally, marketers should consider external sources like social media accounts and third-party websites where their content might be linked; these need regular maintenance since any changes made outside of your domain will still impact how users interact with your site overall.

Finally, having 301 redirects set up for any pages you delete will ensure that traffic coming from those pages won’t end up lost in limbo due to a 404 error message – instead, they’ll be automatically directed toward relevant content on your website!

Identifying broken links is an important part of website maintenance and can help ensure that visitors have a positive experience when they visit your site.

Broken links are links that no longer work or lead to the wrong page, which outdated content, incorrect URLs, or server errors can cause.

Identifying these broken links will allow you to fix them quickly and keep your website running smoothly.

Using Manual Checks

The most basic way to check for broken links is by manually checking each link on your website one by one.

This method may take some time, but it’s effective if you don’t have access to automated tools.

To do this, simply click on each link and make sure it leads you where it should go without any error messages popping up.

Using Automated Tools

If manual checks seem too tedious for you, there are plenty of automated tools available online that can scan through all the pages of your website in just a few minutes and alert you about any broken links they find along the way.

Some popular options include W3C Link Checker, Xenu’s Link Sleuth, Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool, etc., which offer both free and paid versions depending on what features you need from them.

Identifying broken links early on can be beneficial in many ways.

It will improve the user experience, as well as boost your search engine rankings since Google penalizes websites with a lot of 404 errors in their indexing algorithm.

Furthermore, fixing these issues quickly will stop potential customers from leaving due to slow loading times or dead ends while browsing through your site.

Identifying broken links is a critical step in maintaining the health of your website.

Knowing how to identify and fix them can help you improve your website’s SEO, user experience, and overall performance. Next, we’ll discuss how to repair broken links once identified.

Key Takeaway: Identifying and fixing broken links on your website is important to ensure a positive user experience. It can also help improve search engine rankings and reduce customer abandonment.

Broken links are an issue that can cause a lot of frustration for website visitors.

They occur when a link points to a page or file that no longer exists, resulting in the user being unable to access the content they were looking for.

There are several types of broken links, each with its causes and solutions.

404 Errors

A 404 error is one of the most common types of broken links and occurs when someone tries to visit a page on your website, but it doesn’t exist anymore.

This could be due to changes in URL structure or simply because you deleted the page without redirecting it elsewhere.

To fix this type of broken link, you need to create a 301 redirect from the old URL to another relevant page on your site or display an informative message letting users know why they can’t find what they’re looking for.

Soft 404 Errors

Soft 404 errors occur when someone visits a web page that still exists but contains little or no content related to their search query.

This could happen if you delete some pages without properly redirecting them somewhere else, leaving visitors with nothing useful after clicking through from Google results pages (SERPs).

The best way to prevent soft 404s is by making sure any deleted pages are redirected correctly, so users don’t end up on empty pages instead of where they expected to go.

Link Rot

Link rot refers to out-of-date internal and external links which lead nowhere as websites change over time and URLs become obsolete as new ones take their place.

It’s important not only to check your website regularly for outdated links but also to keep track of any external sites linking back to yours so you can update them accordingly if needed – otherwise, those clicks won’t count towards anything!

Syntax errors refer specifically to typos within URLs, such as incorrect capitalization, missing slashes, etc., which result in ‘Page Not Found’ messages appearing instead of what was intended by whoever clicked through from the link.

To avoid this type of problem happening in the future, it is important to make sure all internal and external URLs have been double-checked before publishing online; even small mistakes like these can have large consequences.

Broken links can be detrimental to any website’s SEO, so marketers need to understand the different types of broken links and how they can be avoided.

Next, we will discuss strategies for finding and fixing broken links.

Key Takeaway: Broken links can cause a lot of frustration for website visitors, so it’s important to regularly check your site and keep track of external links pointing back to yours. Common types of broken links include 404 errors, soft 404s, link rot and syntax errors.

Broken links are a common issue for website owners and can be detrimental to the success of any online business.

They can cause confusion, and frustration, and lead to visitors leaving your site without taking any action.

Fortunately, there are ways to fix broken links and prevent them from occurring.

Updating URL Paths: One way to fix broken links is by updating the URL paths.

This involves replacing old URLs with new ones that point to updated content or pages on your website.

It’s important to ensure that all internal links on your website use valid URLs, so visitors don’t end up at a dead-end page or an error message when they click on them.

Redirecting URLs

Another option for fixing broken links is redirecting them using 301 redirects or server-side redirects such as 302 Found or 307 Temporary Redirects.

These will take users from one URL path (the old one) directly to another (the new one).

This helps maintain continuity between web pages while ensuring visitors don’t get stuck in limbo due to outdated information or invalid URLs being used within your site structure.

Finally, you may want to consider removing unnecessary external links if they no longer serve a purpose for your website’s content strategy.

External sites change their structures over time which could result in dead ends if not monitored regularly; it is best practice only to link out when necessary and keep track of where those external sources go so you can update accordingly if needed.

By taking the necessary steps to fix broken links, marketers can ensure that their website’s content remains up-to-date and accessible for users.

Next, let’s look at how to prevent broken links in the future.

Key Takeaway: Broken links can be detrimental to the success of any online business, but there are ways to fix them. The main methods include: updating URL paths, redirecting URLs, and removing unnecessary external links. Keeping track of all internal and external links is key in order to maintain a website’s structure and avoid dead-ends or error messages for visitors.

Broken links are a major issue for marketers and website owners. They can harm user experience, search engine rankings, and overall website performance.

To prevent broken links from occurring, it is important to regularly check your website’s internal and external links, use relevant and updated content, and monitor your website’s performance.

Regularly Check Your Website’s Internal & External Links

It is essential to check the status of all internal and external links on your site at least once every month or two months.

This will help you identify any broken or dead links that may be present on your web pages.

You should also ensure that all the URLs used in the link text are correct so that they don’t lead to 404 errors when clicked by users.

Use Relevant & Updated Content

Outdated content can lead to broken links if they contain references or hyperlinks which no longer exist due to changes in websites over time.

Therefore, it is important to keep track of any changes made by other websites you link out to and update them accordingly on your pages so as not to create broken link issues for yourself or others who might be linking back to you from their sites.

Monitoring how well your website performs helps detect potential problems before they become an issue for visitors or search engines alike, such as slow loading times due to large images being used.

This could result in people leaving without clicking through any further pages, thus leading to possible dead ends with no exit route available, resulting in more broken link issues down the line unless addressed quickly enough upon detection of such issues arising during regular monitoring sessions taking place throughout each month or year depending on how frequently one wishes to perform these checks themselves manually.

By following the above steps, you can ensure that your website’s links function correctly and avoid any potential broken link issues.

Key Takeaway: It is important to regularly check and monitor your website’s internal and external links, use relevant and updated content, and monitor the performance of your website to prevent broken links from occurring.

What Are 404 Error Pages and Why Are They Important?

A well-designed 404 page can help keep users on your site by providing helpful information about what happened and how they can find what they were looking for.

It should also include links to other parts of the website so users don’t get lost while trying to find their way back home.

Your 404 page should also be visually appealing, as it is often one of the first things visitors see when they land on your site – even if it wasn’t intended!

This means you should take some time to make sure it looks professional and matches the design of your overall website aesthetic.

You could even use this opportunity to add humor into the mix – after all, everyone loves a good pun!

It’s also important that you include contact details such as email addresses or phone numbers so visitors can easily reach out if they need assistance finding something specific on your website.

This helps create trust between you and potential customers, which is essential for building relationships online.

Finally, make sure that all broken links within your site redirect directly to the 404 page instead of displaying an error message – this will ensure that visitors have a better experience navigating around your website and won’t become frustrated at not being able to find what they’re looking for quickly enough!

What do broken links mean?

Broken links are hyperlinks on a website that lead to a page or file that no longer exists. This can happen for many reasons, such as when the content is moved or deleted, the URL was typed incorrectly, or if there is an issue with the server hosting the page. Broken links can be frustrating for users and have a negative impact on SEO rankings. To prevent broken links from occurring, it’s important to regularly check all existing URLs and update them accordingly. Additionally, using 301 redirects when moving pages will help ensure visitors don’t encounter any broken links.

Broken links are caused when the web page or file that a link is pointing to has been moved, deleted, or renamed. This can happen due to website updates and changes in content management systems, as well as incorrect URLs being used for linking purposes. Additionally, broken links may occur if a domain name expires or if there is an issue with the hosting server. Lastly, broken links can be caused by incorrect coding in the HTML or if a website is not properly maintained.

Broken links can be identified by manually checking the website or using a link checker tool. Manual checks involve clicking on each link and ensuring that it takes you to the correct page. Link checker tools are automated programs that scan websites for broken links, returning a list of any URLs that are not working correctly. These tools often provide additional information such as the type of error code associated with the broken link, which can help identify why it is not functioning properly.

Broken links can be classified into four main types:

1. 404 errors, which occur when a page is not found on the server;

2. Soft 404s, which are pages that appear to exist but contain no content;

3. Link rot, which occurs when a link points to an outdated page or website; and

4. Redirect chains, where multiple redirects cause the user to get stuck in an infinite loop of redirects. All of these broken links can have negative impacts on SEO rankings and user experience if left unresolved for too long.


In conclusion, broken links can be a major issue for marketers. They can have an impact on SEO rankings and user experience.

It is important to understand what causes broken links, how to identify them, the types of broken links, how to fix them and how to prevent them to maintain a successful website.

Broken link management should be part of any marketer’s regular maintenance routine so they don’t miss out on potential customers or search engine ranking opportunities due to broken links!

Also read: this is how to use the Ezoic Broken Link Checker to fix internal link issues on your site

Joost Nusselder is The Content Decoder, a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new tools en tactics. He's been working on a portfolio of niche sites since 2010. Now since 2016 he creates in-depth blog articles together with his team to help loyal readers earn from their own succesful sites.