Redirecting, Relocating and Removing Content
Have you ever clicked on a link to or on a website, only to be taken to an error page that shows the message “Error 404, page cannot be found”? If the answer is no, I’d be tremendously surprised! If you said yes, then you’re with the rest of us and you’ve found a broken link.
What is a broken link?
A broken link is a link that takes the user to any web page that cannot be found or accessed. Web servers will often return an error message when a user tries to access a broken link. Broken links are also often known as “dead links” or “link rots”.
They are not only frustrating for the user, but they can also be bad for business. If your links don’t work properly, you run the risk of losing traffic and sales opportunities. A site with many dead links can also be interpreted by users as unprofessional and untrustworthy and they may simply click away from your site. For example, in 2013, 40% of web traffic was lost because of broken links. This lost traffic could lead to missed sales opportunities for your business.
Dead or broken links will point to nowhere. They are a web related issue usually caused by infrequent website updates or carelessness when embedding links, which results in typos.
What does a broken link mean for my website?
An incorrect URL on a website means that the link doesn’t exist and so goes nowhere, and a site that is not updated frequently can result in old links that point to pages that may no longer exist. This results in reduced traffic – and ultimately, revenue – to your website.
What causes broken links?
Broken links can usually be narrowed down to two causes:
- The website has been renamed or moved, its structure has changed, and internal links weren’t modified accordingly.
- The linked content has been moved or deleted.
A broken link can also sometimes be because of poor internal linking structure on your website, which will ultimately lead to lower SEO rankings and traffic generation. Therefore, it’s important to regularly check for broken links on your website or blog. It can be a pain and time-consuming, but the results are well worth it in the long run!
How do I avoid broken links?
Check regularly for broken links
You might need to dedicate some time each month to check for any missing or broken links and there are many free broken link checking website services that you can make use of to help you locate and fix broken links on your site. We recommend checking your website regularly on a schedule, for example, on the first of each month. Even if no new content has been added or changed on your site, it’s still important to go back through older posts and update any dead links before they become a problem for search engines crawlers and start to have negative impact your organic traffic.
Broken links on your site can be managed, as long as you consistently take the time each month (during scheduled maintenance activities) to check for new dead links and update content that is out of date or no longer relevant.
Update old content
The good news is that one of the most common causes of broken links is well within your control. If you and your team update old content instead of simply deleting it when it becomes irrelevant. If you don’t have the time to update it the page and its content, consider adding a disclaimer that lets the user know that the content now is outdated and offer them a more relevant and recent alternative.
Avoid shortened URL services
There are some people that recommend avoiding the use of shortened URLs services such as bit.ly to create simple, more user-friendly versions of links for the purpose of sharing on social media. These shortened links have an increased chance of resulting in a redirection error, which can result in disappointed users and reduced traffic to the intended webpage or site.
How do I fix or amend broken links?
Fixing broken links is easy. The best option will depend on the type and purpose of the link.
Fixing your own links
For instance, if the link points to an external resource that complemented your content, you can delete the link, while leaving the anchor text. Or you could also use the same anchor text to lead our users to an alternative link.
If the dead links are internal, you can set 301 redirects to resolve the issue. A “301 redirect” means that the page in question has been permanently moved. If you use WordPress, you can generate 301 redirects quite easily with a plugin such as Redirection or 301 Redirects.
If the broken link is on a removed web page, you should also remove it from your index, so that search engines don’t waste time crawling.
Outsourcing to a trusted company
Broken links are a major headache for website owners. Not only do they break the user experience, but it can be difficult to find them to address or fix them. Luckily, there are ways that you can protect your site against broken links and keep everything running smoothly without too much trouble.
If you’re not too tech savvy, or don’t have the time to dedicate to the task of weblink maintenance and upkeep, we suggest outsourcing this task to keep your site up to date and your links connecting smoothly.
Choose Jezweb to maintain your website
Jezweb offers secure web hosting services that will keep your site updated and performing its best all the time. Let us manage the updating and general management of your site so that you can get back to doing what you do best!
If you have any questions about how we handle web hosting services, don’t hesitate to reach out; our team is always happy to help with anything of your web-related needs. Give us a call on 1300 024 766 or simply click here to send us an online message and we will get back to you as soon as possible.