A Broken link is more than just a minor trouble, it acts as a barrier on your way to providing a seamless user experience and securing top positions in search engine results.

This comprehensive guide on broken links will search into understanding, identifying, and resolving these bothersome issues that can impact your website’s performance. Moreover, it will inspire you to take on some practices on the issue of ‘Broken links’ for a healthy and efficient website performance and user experience.

Understanding Broken Links

A broken link is also called a “dead link”. It is a hyperlink that doesn’t work as when you click on it, it fails to take you to the intended page.

There are 2 types of broken links: 

1. Internal Broken Links 

These are also known as ‘Broken Inbound Links’.

These are the links within your own website that no longer exist or can’t be found. When you click these links, you are directed to the page with the error ‘404 Not Found’. 

These occur when you have either moved pages, deleted pages, or haven’t updated the corresponding link.

2. External Broken Links

These are also known as ‘Broken Outbound Links’

These occur when you link to pages on other websites and on clicking them you are taken to the error page ‘404 Not Found’. 

These are out of your control, but still gives your website disturb the credibility of your website and user experience. 

Common Causes of Broken Links

  1. URL Changes: Modify the structure of your URLs without updating your internal links.
  2. Content Deletion: Removing pages or content from your site without removing or updating existing links to them.
  3. Typos: Simple errors in entering URLs can lead to broken links.
  4. External Site Changes: The external pages you link to may be moved, or deleted, or their URL structures changed without notice.

Identifying Broken Links

Finding broken links is essential for keeping your website in good shape and guaranteeing a pleasant experience for your visitors. 

Here’s how you can identify these links:

Tools and Methods for Finding Broken Links

1. Automated Tools

Various SEO and website management tools can help you swiftly identify broken links. Here are some options including paid, free, or offer both:

  • Google Search Console: This is a free tool provided by Google. It gives you insights into how your site performs in Google search. It helps you identify scan errors including 404 not found errors, which tell the broken links on your site.
  • Screaming Frog SEO Spider: It offers both, a free and a paid version of this desktop program. It scans your website’s links, images, CSS, and scripts to find broken links (404s) and other SEO issues. The free version can only check a limited number of pages.
  • Ahrefs: This tool requires a subscription for full access, but it offers a limited free version using which you scan your site and find broken links. It’s a full SEO tool with a wide range of features.
  • SEMrush: This is a subscription-based service and also provides a limited free version. It has a site audit feature that checks your site to find broken links and other SEO problems.
  • Broken Link Checker for WordPress: It is a free plugin for the WordPress site. It monitors and tests all the internal and external links on your site for broken links.
  • W3C Link Checker: This free tool checks links in web pages or full websites to find broken links. 
  • Check My Links: This is a free Chrome extension that scans your webpage for broken links.

2. Manual Checks

In this, you manually check links on your site by clicking them one by one to see if they are not broken links. It is a time-consuming process but it gives you a relief to see them with your own eyes.

This practice is basically done on the important pages of your website like your homepage, contact page, or any other page that is getting a higher number of crowd.

Manual Checks v/s Automated Tools

  1. Efficiency: Automated tools can scan your entire site quickly, a task that would take hours or days manually.
  2. Accuracy: While automated tools are generally reliable, manual checks can sometimes catch mistakes that automated tools miss.
  3. Practicality: Manual checks are more feasible for small websites with fewer pages, while automated tools are essential for larger sites.

Frequency for Conducting Broken Link Checks

  • For small to medium websites: Conducting a broken link audit quarterly is a good practice.
  • Larger sites or those frequently updating content: They should consider monthly checks to keep on top of any issues.

Examples of a Broken Link Error Code

Here are examples of error codes that you might encounter when a link is broken:

  1. 404 Page Not Found: This means the page or resource you’re trying to access doesn’t exist on the server.
  2. 400 Bad Request: This occurs when the host server can’t understand the URL provided on your page.
  3. Bad host: Invalid host name: This indicates that the server with that name either doesn’t exist or is unreachable.
  4. Bad URL: This happens when the URL is malformed, such as having missing brackets, extra slashes, or using the wrong protocol.
  5. Bad Code: Invalid HTTP response code: It means the server response doesn’t follow the HTTP specification.
  6. Empty: This means the host server returns responses with no content and no response code.
  7. Timeout: This occurs when HTTP requests consistently time out during the link check.
  8. Reset: This indicates that the host server drops connections, often due to misconfiguration or being too busy.

The Impact of Broken Links On SEO

Broken links are not just a hurdle for your users, they also negatively impact your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. 

Negative Effects on Search Engine Rankings

  1. Interrupted Site Crawling: Search engines use bots to scan your site. These bots follow links to understand and index your content. Broken links act as dead ends, interrupting this process and leading to incomplete indexing of your site.
  2. Decreased Content Value: The value search engines assign to your content is partially determined by its interconnectedness. Broken links disrupt the content network within your site, diminishing its perceived value and relevance.
  3. Impacted User Engagement Metrics: High bounce rates and short visit durations, often resulting from user encounters with broken links, are negative signals to search engines. These metrics can indirectly affect your site’s ranking, as they suggest poor user experience.

Broken Links and Website Authority

Broken links affect your website’s authority on search engines negatively in the following manners: 

  • Diluted Link Equity: The value that is passed by hyperlinks is known as link equity. They are essential for SEO. When you have broken internal links, you’re wasting link equity which may result in boosting the rankings of other pages on your site.
  • Damaged Credibility with Users and Search Engines: If users frequently run into broken links, their trust in your site starts to fade away. This loss of trust can eventually be reflected by search engines too, as they always try to guide users to good information sources.

Google’s Perspective on Broken Links and Site Health

Google’s Quality Guidelines

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines focus on maintaining high-quality websites. Whereas, broken links over a site indicate that they are of low quality or they are neglecting the guidelines. This results in reducing your visibility in search results.

User Experience Focus

Google gives a high value to user experience in its ranking algorithms. A website full of broken links offers a poor user experience and hence Google tries not to show that particular website in its search results.

Recommendation for Regular Maintenance

Google recommends that webmasters should conduct regular site audits to find and fix broken links. This is necessary for keeping your site healthy and ensuring a good user experience. Google rewards these sites with higher rankings.

Fixing Broken Links

Follow this step-by-step guide to efficiently find solutions for both internal and external broken links:

1. Identifying Broken Links

Use tools like Google Webmaster Tools, Ahrefs, or SEMrush to identify both internal and external broken links on your site. These tools can pinpoint exactly where the broken links are located. You can do this manually too.

2. Correcting URLs

For Internal Links: After identifying a broken internal link, check if it’s due to a typo or an outdated URL. Correct the URL in the hyperlink to point to the correct page.

For External Links: If an external link is broken, try to find the current URL of the linked page. If the page no longer exists, consider linking to an alternative, relevant resource.

3. Updating or Removing Content 

If a link goes to content that’s been deleted or moved, you should update your content. You can do it either by getting rid of the link or placing another link with relevant data as an alternative. 

4. Utilizing Redirects Appropriately 

Apply 301 redirects on the pages you’ve moved permanently. This not only fixes the broken link but also passes the SEO value to the new URL.

For deleted content that doesn’t have a direct replacement. You can redirect users to a related page or your homepage.

Impact of Broken Links On SEO

Maintaining a good website requires surveillance, especially when it comes to preventing broken links. 

Here are some best practices and tips for link management, maintaining a healthy website architecture, and the crucial role of regular website audits.

Best Practices for Link Management

  1. Use Descriptive and Stable URLs: Create URLs that are less likely to change. Descriptive URLs related to the content or page title ensure they remain relevant and are less prone to alterations.
  2. Update Links After Changes: Whenever you modify a page’s URL or remove content, immediately update or remove any internal links pointing to that page. For external links, check if the external content has moved and update the URL accordingly.
  3. Implement Redirects for Deleted Pages: If you delete a page that gets important traffic or has many internal links. You should use a ‘301 redirect’ to guide users and search engines to a relevant page.
  4. Link Verification Tools: Use link verification tools and plugins that can automatically check for broken links on your site. These tools can help you identify and fix broken links on time.

Maintaining a Healthy Website Architecture

  • Making Navigation Easy: Creating a clear and easy layout for your site not only improves the experience for your visitors but also simplifies the process of managing links and updating content for you.
  • Keep URLs Consistent: By keeping your website’s URL structure uniform, you’ll decrease the chances of getting broken links. A predictable structure helps you to quickly identify and resolve possible problems.
  • Implement a Sitemap: A sitemap makes it easier for search engines to go through your site and helps you keep track of your site’s layout and any updates you need to make.

Best Practices for Conducting Broken Link Audits

  1. Schedule Regular Audits: Make broken link audits as a part of your regular website maintenance routine.
  2. Prioritize Critical Pages: Make sure your homepage, contact page, and other high-traffic pages are free from broken links.
  3. Fix Links Promptly: When you identify a broken link fix it immediately to avoid a negative impact on user experience and SEO.
  4. Keep a Log: Keep a record of your audits with the date, the links checked, and the steps taken. 

Leveraging Broken Links for SEO Opportunities

Believe it or not, broken links, which are like setbacks, can actually open up opportunities for enhancing your website’s SEO strategy. 

Turning Broken Links into Opportunities

1. Identify Broken Links on Other Websites

Start by finding external websites within your niche that have broken links. Tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or even simple browser extensions can help you identify these links. These links will open up your chance to suggest a replacement link.

2. Reach Out with a Solution

After finding a broken link on another site, contact the website owner or webmaster. Your approach should be helpful and collaborative. Offer them a specific piece of your content that would serve as an ideal replacement for the broken link. It will be a win-win for both of you!

Using Broken Link Building to Improve Your Website’s Backlink Profile

Every broken link is a chance to build a bridge:

1. Create High-Quality Replacement Content

If you find a broken link leading to content that you currently don’t have an equivalent resource for, consider creating one. This content should not only match but surpass the quality of the original. By doing so, you become the go-to replacement, turning a gap in someone else’s content into a strength for your site.

2. Build Relationships 

Broken link building isn’t just about securing a one-time backlink. It’s an opportunity to start a relationship with other webmasters and content creators in your niche. By reaching out with helpful intentions, you’re laying the groundwork for future collaboration and potential backlinks, making it a strategy with long-term benefits.

3. Monitor Your Own Site for Broken Links

Use this strategy defensively as well by regularly checking your website for any broken outbound links. If you find any, look for up-to-date, relevant content to link to instead. This not only improves your site’s usability but can also initiate mutual link-building opportunities.


Throughout this exploration of broken links, we’ve brought out their important impact on both your SEO efforts and the user experience your website delivers. 

Broken links, often overlooked, can actually serve as critical points for reflection and improvement within your digital strategy.

Embrace the challenge of broken links not just as a maintenance task, but as an opportunity for growth and enhancement. Remember, every effort you put into improving your website’s health reflects directly on its success and reputation.


1. What causes a broken link?

Links might not work for several reasons, such as mistyping the URL, the webpage no longer being available online, the page’s URL having been changed, or the linked page having restricted access that you can’t get through.

2. What is the broken link method?

The broken link method involves locating a dead page, and then reaching out to those who have linked to it, suggesting they replace the link with one that directs to a functioning page on your website.

3. What are broken links 404?

Broken links, often resulting in a “404 error,” occur when you try to access a webpage that doesn’t exist anymore. This can happen if the page has been moved or deleted, leading you to a dead end.


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