What are broken links?
Can be created when a link to a webpage has changed name or the page no longer exits. This can result negatively in a website user or search engine crawler ending up on non existent webpage. Within a website there a generally lot’s of links pointing to different pages. Each link contains the name of the destination page in the URL like so.
If a web designer decided to change the URL name from categories to category all the links that point to this webpage would need to be updated or a 301 redirect may need to be put in place.
How to find broken links:
Visit an online Broken Link Finder tool.
Enter a URL and test.
Solutions for fixing broken links:
The easiest way to avoid broken links is not to change the name of a URL or to delete webpages. Using 301 redirects is another great solution for fixing broken links. Creating a ‘404 page not found’ will help if a link is broken or a webpage is not found. You can also request in Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools) to have the webpages hidden within Googles search index.
Avoid deleting or changing webpage names:
It really makes sense to carefully plan and double check all the webpage names before indexing and launching a website. This way we avoid having to change and update the site links later. The best solution to avoid deleting a webpage is instead to place new text on the page notify that this product or function is no longer available and have a link to a similar product or function.
Fixing broken links with 301 redirects:
301 redirects can work well for directing traffic and quality link authority to a webpage that has changed URL or that no longer exists. There are various ways that you can create 301 redirects depending on the content management system (CMS) that is used to create the website. There may be times when a webpage is no longer needed on a website and using a 301 can help to solve any existing links that point to that webpage. Always remember to test redirects before finalising a 301 update.
How to create a ‘404 page not found’ webpage:
Creating a 404 webpage only takes a few minutes and every website should have one. Simply create a new page and call it 404. Place some text on the page that notifies the user to check the URL or use another navigation method to find the content they were expecting to find. In this way, when a user lands on an incorrect URL or deleted webpage they will still land on the website and see the 404 page instead of seeing a server not found page shown by the browser.
Remove/hide webpages from Googles search index:
This should be a last resort to the above methods which will be more beneficial for maintaining page rank and creating a higher quality user experience. In Googles Search Console (Webmaster Tools) there is a function called ‘Crawl Errors’. This will list webpages that are in Googles search index that are not found or that may not exist. There is also a function called ‘Google Index’ where you can find the ‘Remove URL Tool’. This allows you to send Google a request to hide webpages within the search index. It’s important to note that this will not fix other external links that point to that particular page. A 301 will work better in this situation and will carry on any traffic and link authority to the 301 destination webpage.
WEB SWIFT SEO summary:
Broken links will negatively affect the user experience because a user may decide to leave a website if they land on a non existent webpage. Broken links can also affect search engine web crawls that are necessary to keep a website and it’s pages indexed and ranking high in the search results. It’s a good idea to regularly check that a website has no bad links. If it does one of the recommended methods should be utilised to ensure the website is user experience and search engine friendly.