Do Broken Links Affect SEO?

Have you ever clicked on a link on a website only to find that it’s broken with an error message- the dreaded 404 page? Or worse, takes you to an unrelated website? 

This can be extremely frustrating for users and is often caused by outdated or incorrect links. You click on a promising-looking link only to be taken to a dead end. Not only is it annoying, but it can also be detrimental to your website if people are constantly running into broken links when trying to access your content.

Don’t worry – broken links happen to everyone. In this article, we’ll show you how broken links affect your SEO and how to fix them so that your website is up and running again in no time.

What are Broken Links?

image showing 404 error

A broken link is a link on a website that no longer works. When you click on a broken link, you will be taken to a 404 error page. Broken links can occur for many reasons, such as when a website is redesigned, the new pages do not have the same URL as the old pages, or when a website is no longer available.

How do broken links impact your website and affect SEO?

If you have a website, chances are you have broken links. According to a survey by Terry Sullivan’s All Things Web, 6% of the links on the web are broken. While most people know that broken links can be frustrating for website visitors, few realise that they can also have a negative impact on your website’s search engine optimization (SEO).

Broken links can affect your SEO in several ways:

1. User’s experience on your website

88% of site visitors are less likely to return to a website after having a poor experience. Broken links provide a poor user experience, which can lead to people leaving your site without converting into customers or subscribers. 

Broken links are links linked to keywords that help users find the right information about something. If the links are not working, users will get annoyed, and they will leave your website immediately. They will instead visit the website of your competitors to get the required information.

2. Impacts website reputation, traffic & revenue

Website owners invest a huge amount of money in ranking their website in search engine results. 

However, if the website carries too many broken links, it gives the impression that your site is outdated or poorly maintained, which could hurt your reputation and make it harder for people to find you in the search engines.

When people spend less time on your site, search engines assume that your website is providing relevant quality information to the users, resulting in decreased traffic and total revenue of your website.

3. Your SEO efforts

Multiple bar graph showing comparison between seo strategies for effective and ineffective web traffic .

Source

If we go by the words stated by Google, one or two broken links on the website will not affect the SEO. However, it does affect your website’s overall SEO. 

Broken links can prevent search engines from being able to crawl and index your site properly. 

When a search engine crawls your website, it follows each link to see where it leads. If it comes across a broken link, it will flag it as an error. This not only makes it more difficult for the search engine to index your website properly but also hurts your website’s ranking.

Besides this, when the user visits the broken link, he will leave your website immediately. Google will assume that you are not providing the right information or that the content on your website is of low quality. This will directly impact the search engine rankings.

How to Find Broken Links?

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If you’re running a website, it’s inevitable that at some point, you’ll have to deal with broken links. Whether it’s because you’ve moved content around or because an external site has changed its URL, broken links can be a real pain. Not only are they bad for user experience, but they can also hurt your site’s ranking in search engines.

Luckily, there are a few tools that can help you find and fix broken links.

1. Google Search Console

The easiest way to find broken links without spending money on premium tools is using the Google Search Console. This is a free tool that allows you to see how Google crawls and indexes your site. 

The following steps will show you how to find broken links using Google Search Console. 

  • Go to Google Search Console and log in here using your username and password. 
  • Then go to the “Coverage” section from the left-hand side menu.
Line graph in Google search console showing site performance
  • Click on boxes labelled “Error” and “Excluded.” This will show you all the pages on your site that have errors.
Image showing error in site through google search console
  • Next, click on each “URL Error” individually to see if you have any 404 issues on your site labelled as “Not Found (404)”.
Image showing 404 URL not found in google search console
  • Finally, click on the tab “Not Found (404)” to see more information about the error and a list of all broken links on your website.

You can then go through and fix each one individually.

2. Semrush Site Audit

To find and fix broken links on your website, you can rely on SemRush’s Site Audit tool. The tool runs over 120+different On-page and Technical SEO checks that will help you find any linking errors on your website. 

  • Log into your Semrush account and then click on the “Management” option in the main toolbar.

From here, select the “Projects” option and then click on the “Create Project” button.

Seamrush  site audit: Adding new project
  • Select the Site Audit option from your project dashboard page.
Semrush: selecting site audit option
  • You will be asked to configure your audit settings once the tool functions.
  • Use the panel to fill in the details of how many pages you want to check for broken links, which pages to avoid, etc.
Semrush audit setting: checking for broken  links
  • At last, click on the “Start Site Audit.” 
  • The Site Audit tool will begin the analyzing process. Once completed, you will be presented with a list of broken links on your website.
Semrush audit: showing list of broken links on website

3. Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog is one of the best-advanced SEO Tools used to run technical audits of your website.  

You can use the Screaming Frog for free to find broken links on your website. The free version allows you to crawl up to 500 URLs. Here are the steps to find out broken links present on the website using the Screaming Frog tool. 

  • Open the Screaming Frog Tool and sign in there using your login credentials. 
  • In the search box, enter your blog’s URL and then click on the ‘’Start’’ button.
Screaming frog: Analyzing broken links
  • Either wait until the crawl completes and reaches 100% or view broken links while crawling by clicking on the ‘’Response Codes’’ tab and applying a filter for “Client Error 404”.
Image showing finding error 404 in screaming frog
  • Once done, a list of broken links present on your website will be displayed to you after a while.

How to fix Broken Links for a Website?

Once you’ve found the broken links on your site, the next step is fixing them. There are a few different ways that you can go about fixing broken links on your website.

1. Prioritise page with high authority 

One of the most effective ways to fix broken links is to prioritize pages with high authority. 

Instead, focus on the pages that have the high authority or are already ranking well in the Google Search Engine Results. Focus on the pages with multiple links that add value to the content of that particular page.

These are the pages that are most likely to have a significant impact on your website’s overall performance. 

You have to prioritize such pages of your website and then identify the broken links present on those web pages. By fixing these first, you can minimize the damage caused by broken links and improve your chances of quickly getting your website back on track.

You can use SEO tools available in the market to identify the list of high-authority pages. There are many SEO tools that use different metrics that help rank pages based on links. Invest your time in fixing the links on the page that are doing well and have high authority. 

2. Prioritise link with fresh signals 

Fresh signals are indicators that a page is active and relevant. They include things like new content, new comments, and new social media activity.

Not all links you create are equal, and some are more important than others. The links that have the most “link juice” are the ones that come from fresh, high-quality content. These are the links that you want to focus on fixing first.

Once you’ve identified the most important links, it’s time to start fixing them. The best way to do this is to reach out to the owners of the sites where your broken links are located and ask them to update their links. In many cases, they’ll be happy to oblige.

If you can’t get in touch with the site owners or if they’re unwilling to update their links, there are other options available to you. One is to create a 301 redirect from the broken link to a working page on your site. This will ensure that anyone who clicks on the broken link will be taken to a link that’s useful to them. 

3. Redirect to relevant URLs

One way to fix a broken link is to redirect it to a relevant URL. This way, visitors will still be able to access the information they’re looking for, even if the original link is no longer working.

To do this, you’ll need to edit the HTML code for the page. Look for the broken link and replace it with a new URL. Then save your changes and upload the updated page to the server.

If you’re not comfortable editing HTML code, you can also use a plugin or script to automate the process. 

A redirection is a good option if you have a lot of broken links on your site. Redirecting links to relevant URLs helps your website gain loyal traffic. Traffic is what you need to rank your website on the google search engine results. 

Make sure that the links you are linking to the keywords redirect to relevant URLs, which can add more value to your website’s content. Also, ensure that the links you are using to redirect are not broken links. 

4. Do fix broken links 

The best way to fix broken links is by doing it manually by going through and clicking on each link. 

Broken links come from untrusted sources without our knowledge which is a part of the internet world. As noted above, you just need to focus on the links with high-authority pages and quality content. 

Prepare a list of such web pages, identify the number of broken links present on these web pages and then fix them on your own. 

5. You don’t need to fix every link 

If your website has a lot of broken links, don’t worry! You don’t need to go through and fix every single one. This will take up too much time and effort with not much payoff. 

Just focus on the most important pages on your site that are getting the most traffic and make sure those links are working properly. This will be a more effective use of your time.

Broken links: Causes and Solutions 

Have you ever stopped to think about why those broken links exist in the first place? Let’s find out some of the most common causes of broken links – and, more importantly, how to fix them!

Causes Solutions
The linked URLs have moved to a different website If the linked URLs have moved to a different website, you need to search for them and relink them by replacing the old URL from your website with the new URL.
The linked web pages removed by the user If the linked URLs are removed by the users, then you need to remove the broken link manually or add a new URL to that particular keyword to re-link.
Error in the URL while typing While linking to a different resource, you need to double check the URL of the link. If there is a typo in the URL, it will be considered as a broken link.
Linked pages removed by third-party resources If the linked URLs or pages are removed by the third-party resources, then you have to re-link those URLs manually to keep the links alive.
The ISP is blocking the website access If the ISP on the other end blocks the access of the visitors, then the links will be considered as broken links. In this case, you can’t do anything. You can remove the URLs and re-link them with new resources.


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Hey there, I am a software engineer by qualification and an online marketer by profession. I love studying Google search algorithms, implement the findings on SEO projects I work on, and share successful, working strategies with my newsletter audience.

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