A broken link is such a link, when navigating through which the server gives the answer “the page does not exist or is not found”.
The link, document or image requested by the user may not really exist, or may be “lost” due to a malfunction, server or site configuration.
The task of the webmaster and site owner is to ensure that there are no links to non-existing pages, documents and files on the site. In other words, the user, when clicking on any link, is guaranteed to go to the next page and see the expected content there.
Broken links are very bad for the user’s attitude to the site. A person came for information on your site, saw a link on the topic, to find more information … Clicks on it, but there’s nothing there.
You can not forget about the search engines. Imagine – the search robot goes to your site and regularly stumbles upon broken links. What conclusion should the search engine make in this case?
It will assume that you do not update the content, do not watch the relevance of the information and don’t bother to refer where it is at all. Accordingly, the MS can also reduce the site in the issuance because of this, if the broken links are large.
The worst thing with broken links is that they are invisible. It’s rare for the site owner to have full-fledged analytics – which links and which pages users click on. Webmasters themselves often do not follow their links or write a record, they are published and forgotten. A year or two passes and some of the forgotten links have become broken.
Users come to the site on request and want to surf the Internet, but then it does not work out as planned – links are not working. Since the webmaster does not often know about this, it can get messy.
The Internet is a very dynamic system from its very inception and it keeps getting more dynamic.
The number of pages indexed by search engines is growing every day, thousands of new sites are being created, hundreds are ceasing to exist. Although, working sites periodically change CNC, content, add new pages and files as well as delete old ones.
If your 20 pages and broken links are easy to control, then there can be 10,000 pages on another’s and it becomes a lot more difficult to control them. Especially if you refer to web documents on several other sites – you can not always keep track of the availability of all links from the site.
How exactly are the broken links appearing on websites on the Internet?
In which cases do they appear:
- If you delete old and unnecessary pages and documents – but on other pages, in other sections there are links to these pages. They become “broken”.
- If you link to another site and a change occurs on it. This can be a change of domain name, site structure or page deletion. The site can move to a domain with www. and not configure a redirect – in this case the link to the page without www. will also become broken.
- If the sites have an automatic update of content or other data from an external source – for example, with online stores, delivery services or warehouses with data on the Internet. Failures in such systems can be the cause of dead links.
- If the site is processed technically or visually (change of design), the problem arises of transferring content to a new structure. Since there is a lot of data, and technical algorithms can not take into account all the nuances of moving page content – broken links in such cases inevitably appear.
There are several more reasons for the appearance of broken links, but we’ve identified the main ones, and we’ll probably stop here.
The most important thing that a webmaster, a blogger and an optimizer should understand: the appearance of broken links is a natural, unstoppable process. The larger your site, and the more often you refer to your own or other people’s pages – the higher the probability of broken links on the site.
It is difficult to fight against this (especially on other sites) – so we recommend to periodically monitor their presence on the site. This is more effective.
How to fix, change and delete the broken links on the site?
You have to do this manually using your own hands or website crawl tool. How do you go about this?
For example, Wikipedia removes an unnecessary page or combines two pages. You need to change the address in the broken link to lead to a new page.
- If the broken link appeared as a result of the fact that the site ceased to exist, you can refer to the same page in the web archive or find an adequate replacement for the old link.
- If the broken link appeared because the site is unavailable – check if it lasts a long time. There is always a chance that the problems are temporary and are associated with hosting issues or DDos.
- If you refer to a page of the site, and URL address has changed on it, your task is to find an old page with a new URL definition and write it in place of the old one.
- If the page is deleted and you can not find a replacement for it or find it at a new address – there’s nothing that can be done, you’ll have to remove the broken link altogether. To prevent your website from indexation problems, you should close broken links in robots.txt file. This way they can’t be indexed by search bots. Read our blog post about what is robots.txt and how to manage it correctly.
If you can`t determine dead links to website by yourself, you can use broken links checker. Eventually, by following this process and going through link after link, you will get rid of broken links. Yes, you will have to spend some time. But by doing this you show respect and care towards visitors coming to the site from social networks and search engines.