How to Find and Fix Broken Links on Your Website

Sep 2023

Posted by: Category:Digital Marketing



How to Find and Fix Broken Links on Your WebsiteA broken link, often indicated by a “404 not found” error, signifies a hyperlink leading to a non-functional or nonexistent webpage. Such broken links can have adverse effects on your website’s user experience, conversion rates, and search engine optimization (SEO) performance.

The occurrence of broken links can be attributed to various causes, with the most common ones including:

  • Errors or typographical mistakes in the URL address.
  • Relocation of a webpage to a new address without implementing proper redirects.
  • Unavailability or timeout issues related to a specific page or an entire website.
  • Links directing to content such as PDFs, videos, Google Docs files, etc., that are no longer accessible.
  • Restricted access to a webpage due to factors like password protection or a firewall.

Examples of Broken Links:

  1. 400 (Bad Request): This error occurs when the host server fails to comprehend the URL present on a webpage.
  2. 401 (Unauthorized): This status indicates that a webpage is accessible only to authorized users, and unauthorized access is not permitted.
  3. 410 (Gone): When a page has been permanently removed and deindexed, it results in a “410 (Gone)” error.
  4. This site can’t be reached: This message is displayed when a website takes an extended time to respond. Besides server errors, it may also be due to a typographical error in the domain name.
  5. 502 (Bad Gateway): A “502 (Bad Gateway)” error emerges when a server receives an invalid response, typically because it has encountered an issue or is overwhelmed.
  6. Reset: This status indicates that a server terminated connections, often due to misconfiguration or excessive workload.

Why Broken Links Adversely Impact Your SEO:

  1. Negative Impact on PageRank: Broken links have a detrimental effect on your website’s PageRank. When a link is broken, it fails to transmit any link equity or “link juice.” Consequently, all the effort you put into linking becomes futile if the destination URL remains broken and unaddressed.
  2. Diminished User Experience and Increased Bounce Rate: Broken links can significantly harm your site’s user experience, leading to a higher bounce rate. When users click on a search engine results page (SERP) snippet and encounter a “404 not found” error instead of the intended content, they are likely to exit and seek information on another website quickly.
  3. Crawl Budget Depletion: Broken links also deplete your website’s crawl budget. Each time Googlebot encounters a broken URL, it expends a portion of the crawl budget without indexing any content. This resource allocation to broken links results in inefficient crawling and indexing processes.

Discovering Broken Links on Your Website:

Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC)  serves as a fundamental SEO tool for evaluating your website’s organic performance and identifying indexing-related concerns. It’s noteworthy that Google asserts that broken links only adversely impact your site’s performance if the affected page remains unindexed. To locate broken links within your website using GSC, simply navigate to the Indexing > Pages report and select “All submitted pages” from the dropdown menu:

Page Indexing

Still, while GSC shows a list of your broken URLs, it doesn’t provide the information on where the broken page is linked from and offers no fixing advice.

WebSite Auditor – A Comprehensive Solution:

WebSite Auditor offers an in-depth analysis of your website’s SEO status and provides a comprehensive report on any broken links detected on your site. Notably, it goes a step further by categorizing these broken links based on the type of error, allowing you to pinpoint the precise fixes required.

Here’s how to find broken links in WebSite Auditor:

Begin by launching the tool and setting up a project for your website. Then, navigate to the Site Structure > Site Audit module and scroll down to the Links section. Select “Broken links,” and you’re ready to proceed:

Website Auditor

As evident, WebSite Auditor not only facilitates the discovery of broken links but also provides insight into the pages that contain links leading to these broken pages. Moreover, the tool offers a comprehensive explanation of the SEO implications of broken links and offers recommendations for resolving them.

Addressing Broken Links on Your Website:

  1. Substitute the broken link with a fresh, functional, and contextually relevant one.
  2. Implement the appropriate redirect alongside the replacement of the link to ensure a seamless user experience.
  3. Eliminate broken URLs from your website’s sitemap, preventing Google from repeatedly attempting to index them.
  4. Avoid blocking broken URLs using the robots.txt file, as this can lead to crawler confusion and indexing issues.
  5. Develop a customized 404 error page equipped with navigation options. This step proves invaluable in scenarios involving user input errors in URLs or when a removed page lacks a substitute. Such a page can mitigate an increase in bounce rates by offering users alternative useful content and navigation path.


In conclusion, identifying and rectifying broken links on your website is a crucial task for maintaining a healthy online presence and delivering an exceptional user experience. These issues can have adverse effects on your SEO performance, user engagement, and site credibility.

By using tools like Google Search Console and WebSite Auditor, you can efficiently detect broken links and take proactive steps to address them. The key actions to take include replacing broken links with working ones, implementing appropriate redirects, removing broken URLs from your sitemap, refraining from blocking them in robots.txt, and creating a user-friendly custom 404 page.

Regularly monitoring and resolving broken links not only benefits your website’s SEO but also ensures that visitors can navigate your site smoothly and access the information they seek. This proactive approach contributes to an improved online presence and a more positive user experience, ultimately benefiting your website and its visitors.


Leave a Reply