What are Broken Links? How Do You Find and Fix Them? -
4 min read

What are Broken Links? How Do You Find and Fix Them?

Craig Dewart

Written by Craig Dewart

What are Broken Links? How Do You Find and Fix Them?
published April 27, 2023

Learn how to find and fix broken links on your site with Link City.

Nothing is worse than finding the perfect link in the SERPs, clicking on it, and immediately encountering an error code. You hate it, and your users do too - so don't let it happen!

Broken links are sometimes unavoidable, but you must constantly check for them and fix any if you find them. So, what are broken links?

A broken link is a web page that, for various reasons, a user cannot locate or access. Web servers typically send an error message when a user tries to visit a broken link. Broken links are referred to as "link rots" or "dead links."

Broken links are links that can't send users to a new site. We are sure most of you can identify a link even if you aren't an IT genius: those "blue things" that are usually underlined and often contain a lot of gobbledygook!

Links are supposed to take users to a new location once they have clicked on them. This new location could be an external website, a connected website, or a new page. But sometimes, a user can't access or find a specific webpage using a link, which ultimately means the link is broken.

There are two types of broken links: a broken external link and a broken internal link:

The purpose of an internal link is to direct visitors to another page on your website. However, you can have broken internal links on your website if you've altered the URL of your website, removed the linked page, or had pages dropped during a page migration.

When links are broken, it is very hard for Google and other search engines to crawl your site and move to other pages.

Google may consequently assume that your website isn't optimized or is incomplete, which will lower its rankings.

An external link directs readers to a different website that is not under your control, typically one that supports the information you have on your site.

When these links are broken, it might signal that the external website has disappeared, moved, or doesn't have the proper redirects in place.

Links to dead sites make your website appear untrustworthy and less authoritative, tarnishing user experience and undermining your reputation on Google and other search engines.

Backlinks are links to your content on other websites. They are essentially external links from other businesses to your content.

When you change or edit your content or run into deleted pages or changed URLs, your backlinks can't build authority or support your site, damaging your rankings on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines.

Various things can cause broken links. Still, most are unintended side effects when pages are modified, moved, or result from minor human errors.

Understanding what commonly causes a broken or dead link can make you more aware of what you should look out for when you work on your linking and SEO strategies.

Deleted pages

If you have a link going to a specific page, but that linking page has since been deleted, the link does not know where to go and will lead to an error message. Deleted pages are the number one reason behind broken pages and links, so having a redirect strategy and clear linking structure is vital when you delete a page.

Renaming a page

When a page is renamed, its URL also changes. If all links haven't been updated with the new URL, the server won't know how to handle the requests and will instead show an error page.

If a page has been renamed, all of the links to that page should be updated.

Domain name change

When a brand domain changes because a company merges or rebrands, internal links may be forgotten during the transition.


Words in the link URL can be misspelled - a frequent error, better known as a typo. When a link is misspelled, the server cannot determine where it should lead and will present an error page. This can be avoided by first double-checking all of the spelling in the URL.

Site restructuring

Pages may be renamed, deleted, or have their content amalgamated when you restructure or establish a new website on the same domain. Links to the pages in the previous structure will no longer function and need to be modified.

Broken code

The actual code can also break if it is a CSS, HTML, Javascript, or any other plug-in. If a code is broken and needs repairing, it won't work and will display an error code.

Some links point users to downloaded information, such as an eBook, PDF, or Google document, instead of other pages. Because the existing links have nowhere to go when the content pieces are deleted, an error will appear.

Broken links generally come with an error code. The following are some examples:

  • 400 Bad Request: The web server does not understand the URL on your site.
  • 404 Page Not Found: The resource or page does not exist.
  • Bad URL: The URL has extra slashes, is missing a bracket or follows the wrong protocol.
  • Bad Host: The hostname is incorrect, is unreachable, or does not exist.
  • Bad Code: The HTTP response code is invalid and violates the HTTP spec.
  • Timeout: The HTTP request timed out during the link check process.
  • Empty: The host server sends back "empty" answers devoid of content and response codes.
  • Reset: The host server is either too busy or misconfigured, so it drops connections.

Checking your SEOptimer report can help you determine if there are any broken links on your site. If you have tons of posts and pages on your site, you can use SEOptimer's DIY SEO to crawl your entire site to spot broken links. You could also download a plug-in to do this.

The following are some highly effective ways to spot and fix broken links. Finding broken links has never been easier!

SEO tools

You most likely already use a tool for SEO to conduct site audits or check links on your pages, which can help you identify any broken links on your website. Certain SEO tools can also figure out what caused the broken link.

Google Search Console

To create a report that is accessible to you, Google Search Console uses data collected by its bots.

This will assist you in finding any flaws the algorithm may have discovered and lets you verify whether Google is picking up broken links when performing the crawl. However, this won't work for external links; it will only function for URLs on your website.

Quality assurance testing

Conducting quality assurance checks is crucial if you redesign your website, switch domains, consolidate existing sites, or add new pages. At this stage, it is best to check all your links to ensure none are broken. If they are, start planning how to change or redirect the faulty links so you do not run into any errors.

Broken links will damage your Google Search rankings, but they won't negatively affect your SEO as a whole. However, a site may be seen as abandoned or ignored if it has too many broken links.

You will likely be able to maintain your site if you routinely fix and check for broken links every time Google detects an issue on your site. Google and other search engines crawl your pages to examine every link on your site and determine its destination, relevance to the linking structure, and reliability.

Your rankings will suffer if there are broken links on your website since the algorithm may assume it is unfinished or unreliable.

A visitor's experience on your site is one of the most crucial elements in SEO rankings. Users will leave your website if they frequently encounter broken links and error messages, negatively affecting how search engines rank your sites.

You will need to set aside time each month to look for any broken links, depending on how much content you publish each week. Adhere to these best practices at all times, whether once a month, once a quarter, or any interval that works for you.

Avoid deep links. A deep link points to a specific page rather than the homepage. It is otherwise known as an anchor text or internal link. If you are certain that the website is a trustworthy source of information, you may use deep links, whether internal or external.

Look at Google crawl errors

We're all familiar with the dreaded "404 Not Found" error notice. The search console can prioritize errors when they crawl your site to help you find and fix them faster. You can be sure that there are no pressing 404 crawl issues farther down the list if the top mistakes in the report are all irrelevant.

Redirection mechanisms

Redirection mechanisms guide users to a different source of content if links are broken.

Contact the website with the external link and ask them to update it. It's important to get in touch with the connecting website and inform them if they linked to you unintentionally.

They might solve the issue, or you could establish a valid link with them. If the URL source or website is no longer active, you can substitute another source or entirely eliminate the link.

Leave it as a 404

This is a viable alternative; just be sure to display a "hard" 404 rather than a "soft" 404.


You could also redirect a broken page or link to a more relevant page on your site.

Replace and recreate the broken URL's content

You can find out the previous version of the broken page and recreate or replace it if it no longer exists.


And why are broken links so bad? A broken link is a link that no longer functions on a website due to one or more problems: the target website either no longer exists or has relocated, or the web page owner submitted an incorrect URL for the link.

Broken links are detrimental to your website's user experience. Visitors are likely to click on another page or website if they click on a link and get an error message. If enough users do this, it can have an impact on your bounce rate, which Google takes into account when deciding how to rank your site.

Final Thoughts

Finding and repairing broken links is crucial to maintaining your SEO, making it vital to update and improve your site regularly.

Many broken links can hurt your search engine rankings and lead to a bad user experience that puts customers off and costs you money. Your SEO tactics can be improved when you handle broken links and find long-term solutions for them.

You must always fix broken links. This should be a part of your work routine, and now that you know exactly how to find and fix them, you'll have no trouble doing so at all!

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