What Is a Dead Link on Website and How to Correct This Problem?
Let us start with some definitions. First, what is a dead link? As we know, a link is a reference to a web page. A dead or broken link is a hyperlink that points to a page that is not available anymore. The linked page could have been erased, restricted, or placed on another server. The 404 error appears on your browser to show the presence of a dead link.
What is a broken link checker? This is a special software that helps to find the broken link (or links). These tools have become very popular. It is clear why. Useless links annoy everyone. They hamper the functionality of a website and damage its ranking. Hence, correcting them all is critical for SEO.
A deadlink checker crawls through a website. It works as an engine search crawler. It identifies all the links that broke. But, what are broken links on the website for SEO? Well, an engine search crawler has to access all the content of your website. The crawler does this to classify the content. With this information, the search engine indexes and ranks your website. If there are dead links, the crawler cannot complete its function. As a consequence, major search engines may not index your site.
Moreover, the user experience will be poor. Nobody likes getting 404 error messages. Hence, what is a broken link on a website? Let us summarize all the detrimental effects on visitors:
- Visitors do not appreciate clicking on links that do not work;
- Broken links discourage visitors from exploring all the pages;
- Visitors will refrain from coming back.
That does not look good, does it? Let us summarize the effects of broken links on your SEO efforts:
- Engine search crawlers cannot find all the pages of your website. Hence, search engines may not index and rate your website;
- Visitors will not spend much time on your website. A search engine will conclude visitors bounce from your website because of bad experiences. This translates into a bad ranking;
- Your website will get a bad reputation and a search engine could blacklist it.
Links that do not work will affect functionality. It will be detrimental to SEO too. Nobody wants to visit websites with broken links. Hence, you should not spare any effort to correct that problem.
Single Out the Broken Links on Your Website so You Can Repair Them
Pinpointing the links that do not work is the first step. Then, you have to repair them all. If your website is large, it will not be so simple. But, in such cases technology is on your side. A broken link checker can lend a hand. In any case, you will find a solution easier if you learn the types of broken links. It is easy. There are just two types of broken links, internal and external.
Let`s discuss one at a time. What is a dead link internal? An internal link points to a page on your website. Hence, you can have more control over links that lead to nowhere. If you modify the website content, at least one link will likely stop working. The same is true if you upgrade the organization. Hence, you must take a close look at your links after such operations. The importance of internal links for SEO is high. They give access to search engine crawlers to the entire content of the website.
External links point to pages on other websites. That is why some people call them outbound links. Here, the availability of the linked pages is not in your hands. Hence, you have to schedule a time to verify that all the linked pages are available. If your website is not so large, you can check the links manually. Otherwise, you have to use a software tool. External links that lead to dead ends are detrimental. They can decrease your website ranking. A search engine crawler will not appreciate the 404 error pages.
Check Your Website for Broken Links and Keep It in Optimal Condition
If your website is rather small, testing that your links work is easy. It is even easier if you do not have external links. Just inspect your links if you modify content or structure. You already know it. You can do a manual inspection. The situation is different if you have a few external links. In such a case, you should inspect your links every month. If possible, you should inspect the external links more often.
Large websites are a different story. You must perform a thorough check once a week. As your website grows, breaking links is normal. So, you have to avoid generating a large number of dead links. Manual checks, in this case, would take much of your time. Hence, monitoring your website seems to be a better solution. You can do this with special software. There are many programs available online. Some of them are free.
Now, it is time to repair all those links that lead to nowhere. This is straightforward if you identified internal broken links only. You just redirect the links to their correct locations. Repairing links that point to external resources is more time demanding. You must visit the website you were linking to. Then, you must find out what happened to the page you referred to.
If they moved it, then you just have to rename the link. If they removed the content, that is it. You must create a link to a different website. Just verify that the new page provides similar information. Otherwise, you can omit that external link if it is not so important. When you are building a website, verify that you are not generating broken links. Writing the URL incorrectly is the most common mistake. Check the syntax!