The 4-Step Guide on How to Fix Broken Links

how to fix broken links

Not a lot of things are more annoying than clicking on a link to find something you need only to land on a page that no longer exists. 404 error pages can instantly harm your website user experience and also impact your SEO in the long run. So you’ll want to find out how to fix broken links and deliver a satisfying user experience if you want your business to grow.

Broken links often occur by accident when you’ve renamed a site or moved a page and accidentally forgot to change the internal link. They could also occur from incorrectly-formatted URLs. Additionally, external domains might have linked to an older page on your site and didn’t realize that you’ve moved or removed it, thus sending hundreds of visitors to a non-existent page.

Whatever the case may be, broken links can be annoying for visitors and damaging for site owners. This post gives you a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to find and fix broken links and prevent loss of revenue as well as drops in search engine ranking.

Why fix broken links?

First of all, you’ll want to know why fixing broken links is so important and how it can benefit your business. To understand this, let’s take a look at how broken links affect your business and website:

1: They ruin the user experience

One of the main things you want as a website owner is to make sure that people feel good about visiting and exploring your site so they want to buy something or come back another time. Without a good user experience, you could easily risk losing prospective sales. Plus, you’re giving people more reason not to come back to your site.

Broken links are among the major causes of a bad user experience. People won’t be able to find what they’re looking for, so you won’t be able to convert them. And they might not want to come back later on if that’s the kind of user experience you’re offering. This means you’re losing out on future sales as well.

2: They disrupt the conversion funnel

Broken links have a detrimental effect on your revenue because they disrupt the conversion funnel. That means, even as a visitor gradually moves through the funnel that could finally lead to a conversion, they could end up hitting a brick wall with a 404 error page.

This disrupts the flow and prevents them from converting. This hurts your revenue in the long run because you could be losing out on hundreds of potential sales.

3: They increase your bounce rate

What do you normally do after landing on a 404 page on a website? You most probably would leave the site immediately as you move on to another website that could possibly help you find what you’re looking for. And you won’t be the only person to do the same.

That means broken links on your site will result in plenty of bounces, signaling to search engines that your site is no longer relevant for that particular search.

4: They lower your Google ranking

As the high bounce rate eventually builds up, those broken links will eventually translate to lower ranking in Google search results. Search engines will assume that visitors didn’t find what they needed on your site, so they will consider it less relevant and credible for that particular search.

In addition, broken links will prevent search engines from smoothly crawling through your site to index your pages. So Google won’t be able to make sense of what your site is all about and what kind of information it can provide to users. This also contributes to a lower rank in Google search results.

4 steps to fix broken links on your site

Now that you have a clear understanding of how critical it is to fix broken links on your site, let’s go through the steps that will help you do just that:

Step 1: Check for broken links on your site

Before you try fixing broken links on your site, you should first find out which links need fixing. While you can use Google Analytics to do this for free, the process is a bit complicated.

So consider using tools like Ahrefs Broken Link Checker instead. For those who use WordPress, there’s also the option to quickly detect broken links using the Broken Link Checker plugin.

Alternatively, Rebrandly recently introduced a new feature that lets you monitor all your branded domain names to detect broken links and their significance in your overall traffic.

This feature monitors human clicks over the past 30 days and discovers broken links based on those clicks. So it’s a much faster way to automatically check for broken links on your site.

Step 2: Find broken backlinks to your site

In addition to broken links within your site, you also need to check for broken backlinks coming to your site from another domain. You can use the Ahrefs Broken Link checker again for this.

This tool provides you with a detailed list of all the incoming links that are no longer available. You can also discover the number of referring domains for each broken link.

broken links

Step 3: Analyse all broken links and decide on a fix

Next, you need to analyse all the broken internal links and backlinks to look for possible fixes. Keep in mind that the fixes could vary by the type of link and its contribution to your overall traffic.

For example, instead of removing broken links that tend to get a lot of clicks, you might want to look for redirect options.In case of links that don’t get a lot of clicks and are no longer necessary, you could opt to remove them instead.

Some broken backlinks might require a page update while others might simply need contacting the site owner and requesting them to use the correct link. So make sure you neatly organise all the broken links and backlinks based on how you plan on fixing them.

Step 4: Repair broken links as needed

After this, start fixing all the broken links you’ve narrowed down on. As mentioned earlier, the possible fixes will vary depending on the link. You have a few options to repair them:

Replace/redirect them

Replace the broken links with a suitable alternative or redirect them to another relevant page on your site. For example, let’s say you had set up a landing page where people can place pre-orders for a (then) upcoming product.

Since the product has been released, you might have deactivated the option to place pre-orders. So you could replace the link or redirect it to a page where they can place regular orders for the same product. Or let’s say you’ve discontinued a product that was very popular among your customers. Instead of sending them to a 404 error page when they try to buy it or learn more about it, you could redirect them to a page for a suitable product alternative.

But make sure you clearly notify them that the product they were originally looking for is no longer available “but consider trying (this alternative).”
The Rebrandly broken link management feature allows you to easily repair broken links on your site with just a few clicks. So you won’t need to go back and forth trying to fix every broken link on your site.

rebrandly broken links

Remove them

For some broken links, it might be better to remove them completely so people don’t keep accidentally landing on a non-existent page. This solution may be suitable for products that no longer exist and have no suitable alternative. You could also use this fix for one-time campaigns and services you no longer offer, for example.

Request site owners to fix broken backlinks

Some broken backlinks might occur due to a minor human error from the site owner. For example, they may have mistyped the URL or added an extra character by accident. In such cases, it would be wise to directly reach out to the site owners and request them to use the correct link instead.

Recreate/replace content on the same URL

For broken backlinks that no longer have the original content, you could also consider recreating the content or replacing it with a suitable alternative. For example, a major website keeps sending traffic to an article that you originally published about ad retargeting but have since removed it. You could consider recreating content around the same topic but with better, more updated information.
This could be a little time-consuming, but well worth all the traffic and link juice especially if they’re coming from reputable websites. And you won’t have to start your link-building efforts all over again, which makes it easier to keep maintaining a high search engine ranking.

Bottom line

These steps will help you detect and fix broken links so you don’t lose your high ranking in search engine results or miss out on any prospective sales. The best part is that you won’t even have to manually search for broken links that need fixing. Make the most of tools that can automatically detect broken internal links and backlinks to save time. Rebrandly makes it even easier by letting you repair these broken links from a single dashboard.

Further reading: 

This article is about:

  • How to Fix Broken Links
  • Broken Links
  • 404 Broken Links
Angelo Rosati
Growth Marketing Manager at Rebrandly. +10 years in digital marketing, MBA, Volunteer, Team Leader.