Broken Link - Definition / Origin & Correction
Definition and general
A broken link is a link on the Internet that points to an unreachable destination. Basically, it can be a page or a file (e.g. PDF file, an image, css, etc.).
You can compare it with a recipient address on a letter, which is no longer valid (e.g. recipient unknown / moved).
Common error codes
- Error 404 Not Found
- Error 410 Gone
- Dead Link
- Broken link
- Missing Link
Many broken links can lead to a devaluation in the SERP (=german search results page). Therefore, you should regularly check your website for broken links and correct any existing ones.
How are Broken Links Created?
Broken links can occur due to different phenomena. We will show you the most common ones below.
- A File on the server was deleted or renamed
- The Domain of the link target was resolved (e.g. target domain was resolved)
- The URL is wrong (often errors with wrong endings like ".php" instead of ".html" or ".jpeg" instead of ".jpg" - or even "http://" instead of "https://")
- The Target page is not reachable (e.g. due to network problems or failure of the target server - or even a new structure of the target page).
- Incorrect link redirects (e.g. http://domain.de instead of https://www.domain.de or redirects via htaccess)
- Spelling error in link
- When using cache systems, the cache was forgotten to be deleted or new ones to be created after a customization (often with store systems such as Gambio or WordPress cache plugins)
What are the reasons to correct broken links?
Basically, links are considered like recommendations in real life. If you make a lot of unnecessary and useless recommendations to your friends or acquaintances, over time your reputation and credibility will diminish. In principle, search engines work on the similar principle.
In addition, dead links on a website always lead to a negative user experience, which negatively affects the visitor experience (usability). This leads to another negative feature in the eyes of search engines, as they want to deliver the highest possible quality results to the searcher.
Search engines crawl the Internet and your site at regular intervals. In the process, they also track existing links. If a link is broken, the crawler stalls - it's like when you head for a destination and the address or house number can't be found. This creates a lot of extra work for the search engines. Who would you personally prefer?
- The website with broken links or incorrect information?
- or rather the website that offers high quality links?
No one likes broken links - neither search engines, nor your target audience
How can I find broken links?
Your own website can be tested for broken links with many different options.
There are free and paid tools for this purpose.
Some CMS such as WordPress can also be provided with appropriate plugins. This then take over the search for broken links and help the administrator to optimize or improve the page.
Can broken links be avoided?
Basically, as an administrator you should always try to have a constant structure. However, there are cases where a change is necessary or cannot be prevented.
Always submit your current inventory to Google in the form of an XML sitemap. For large pages, a separate sitemap for images is a good idea, so that the permissible size of 50.000 URLs or 50 MB is not exceeded. The prerequisite for this is a registration with Google Webmaster Tools.
When you change your structure / files
If you change the names of your files or the structure of your website, you should 301-redirect the old files to the new targets via your htaccess file. This will ensure that your visitors are redirected to the new content.
Broken Links & SEO
If you are doing search engine optimization, so you should consider broken links in your strategy. This has 2 different reasons:
Check all incoming links to see if they find the correct targets. If there are broken targets here, redirect them to working targets via htaccess redirection. This will help you avoid a negative visitor experience for incoming traffic and direct the incoming link juice to the right place. In the long run, you should contact the referring administrator so that the link is changed directly.
A useful SEO strategy can be to scan the search results of your keywords for 404 pages. Here, the link checkers listed above or the professional software tools can be of great help.
If you find a broken page, you can then contact the webmaster or SEO responsible and point them to the broken links. If you do it cleverly, you can point to your own content and build a link structure through this - provided that you contact reputable sites.
The link structure of a website is important for the success of a website. What good is the most beautiful website if there are too many errors and your possible customer is already scared away before the inquiry?