How to Find and Fix Broken Links with Semrush
Learn How to Find and Fix Broken Links using Semrush
How to Find and Fix Broken Links with Semrush
A broken link can have a negative impact on your website’s user experience. It can be unsettling to be met with a 404 error page while browsing your site’s pages or exploring external links you’ve included.
Broken links can also have an impact on the page authority gained from internal and external links. Lower page authority can harm your ranking, especially when compared to competitors.
We’ll go over how broken links work, why they need to be updated, and how to use the Site Audit tool to check for them.
What exactly are broken links?
When a link points to a page that no longer exists or cannot be found, it is said to be “broken.” A page or resource may be missing for a variety of reasons, including:
You changed the URL of the page.
During a website migration, some pages were lost or renamed.
You may have linked to content (such as a video or document) that is no longer available on the server.
It’s possible that you typed the URL incorrectly.
Broken Link Examples
When you click on a link, you’ll know it’s broken if the page returns errors such as:
If you see this error, it means that the page or content has been removed from the server.
The server cannot be reached, does not exist, or the hostname is incorrect.
The server violated the HTTP Spec. 400. The host server does not recognize the URL on your page.
Timeout: The server timed out while attempting to connect to the page.
What Factors Contribute to Broken Links?
Understanding how links break can assist you in preventing them from breaking in the future. Here are some of the most common causes of broken links:
Incorrect URL Spelling: You may have misspelled the link when creating it, or the URL of the webpage you’re linking to may contain a misspelled word.
The URL structure of your website may have changed: You’ll need to set up a redirect if you’ve completed a site migration or reordered your content tree to avoid breaking any links.
An external website is no longer accessible: When you link to a website that is no longer available or is temporarily unavailable, the link will appear broken until you remove it or the site is restored.
You provided a link to content.
Internal Links That Are Broken
If you do the following, you may encounter broken internal links:
changed the URL of the webpage
deleted the page from your website
a page was lost during a website migration
Broken internal links make it more difficult for Google to crawl the pages of your website. Google cannot find the next page if a link on a page is broken. It may also indicate to Google that your website is not properly optimized, which may lower your rankings.
Broken External Links
These links point to an external site that no longer exists, has moved locations, and has not implemented any redirects.
These broken external links are bad for the user’s experience and are bad for the flow of link equity. If you were counting on external links to share their page authority with you, the broken link defeats that.
Broken backlinks happen when another website links to a part of your website with any of the aforementioned errors (poor URL structure, misspellings, removed content, hosting issues, etc.)
Your page loses out on page authority because of these links, so it’s important to address them to make sure they don’t impact your ranking.
Why are Broken Links bad for SEO?
First and foremost, broken links hurt your site’s user experience. If a person clicks on a link and receives an error, they will likely click away to another page or website.
If enough users do this, it could affect your bounce rate, which Google will note when determining your site’s ranking.
Broken links also interrupt the flow of link equity. Backlinks from reputable sites boost your website’s page authority.
Internal links help with the flow of equity around your site. For example, blog articles can boost other articles’ rankings if they’re related and linked.
Lastly, broken links restrict Google bots that are trying to crawl and index your site. The harder it is for Google to understand your site in its entirety, the longer it will take to see any positive moment in your ranking.
In 2014, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller noted that “if you find things like [broken links], I’d fix it primarily for your users, so that they’re able to use your site completely. […] It’s really more like other regular maintenance that you might do for your users.”
The impact of broken links on SEO ranking has only grown, and it’s clear that Google wants you to pay attention to user experience.
How to Find and Fix Broken Links on Your Website
In the highly competitive world of SEO, you’ll want to find and address any website errors quickly. Fixing broken links should take further priority to ensure your user’s experience isn’t impacted negatively.
To get started, you can use the Site Audit tool to find and fix broken internal links.
Finding broken links with the Site Audit tool
The Site Audit tool includes over 120 different on-page and technical SEO checks, including a check that highlights any linking errors.
To set up a Site Audit, you’ll
1. Create a new project: You’ll need to create a project for your website to access the Site Audit tool. Under “Management” in the main toolbar, select “Projects.” Click “Add a New Project.”
2. Run a site audit: Select the Site Audit card on your project dashboard. You’ll be prompted to configure your audit’s settings once the tool opens.
Use the panel to tell the tool how many pages to audit, which pages to ignore, and add any additional access information the crawlers may need.
3. Analyze any broken links with the Site Audit tool: Once completed, the tool will return a list of issues to browse. Use the search input to filter for any linking issues.
4. Fix the links: Once you have found the broken links, you can fix them by updating the links or removing them altogether.
How to Find and Fix Broken Backlinks to your Website
Broken backlinks are links pointing to your website from another website. You want healthy backlinks pointing to your site to help maintain your page authority.
To find and fix broken external links, you’ll need to run a backlink audit with the Backlink Audit tool.
1. Return to your project’s dashboard. Select the Backlink Audit card to launch the tool.
You’ll be prompted to configure the tool before your audit begins. Use the panel to set the scope and additional properties, like the target country.
2. Once the audit is complete, navigate to the targeted page tab.
3. Select “Target URL error:”
4. Select active keywords
Now you’ll be able to see any backlinks pointing to any URLs on your website that return an error.
Fixing Broken Backlinks
If the backlink is external, you can reach out to the website’s owner and ask them to update the URL with a new one pointing to the correct webpage.
If the issue is an internal issue, such as you changing the URL of a webpage on your site, set up a 301 redirect towards the new webpage.
Broken Link Building
Broken link building involves using the Backlinks Analytics tool to identify broken links on other websites in your niche or service area. You can reach out to these websites to persuade them to link to your content instead.
Of course, you’ll need to first create content worth linking to. Though it may require more time and focus than other linking strategies, broken link building can help you build a few healthy backlinks.
You won’t reap a huge number of backlinks, but so really focus on quality backlinking opportunities you can take advantage of. Check our comprehensive guide to broken link building for further reading.
The impact a broken link can have on user experience and your Google rankings can be huge, so the fixes are worth implementing.
Use the Site Audit tool to identify missing internal and external links, then work with your resources or other sites to make the switch.
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