Broken Links on a Website: Causes, Consequences, and Fixes

Peter A. Liefer II | Posted: March 1st, 2023

An Ahrefs study on link rot revealed that 66.5 percent of links to websites in the last decade are dead or broken. Unfortunately, having too many broken links on your website and leaving them unchecked can significantly impact user experiences and ranking results. To avoid these online issues and remain an authority in your industry, we will cover everything you need to know about broken links, including their causes, why they impede your SEO efforts, and how you can correct them.


What Is a Broken Link?

Broken links are web pages that users are unable to find or access. When this happens, the user is directed to an error page.


What Causes Broken Links?

Broken hyperlinks occur due to various issues. Among the most common causes include:

  • Removed Pages. From blog posts to service pages, if a webmaster deletes a page intentionally or by accident, a visitor will not be able to access it since the content no longer exists.
  • Renamed Domain. A link may break when a webmaster changes the domain name. For example, if you decide to rebrand your business and change its name, you would want your domain name to reflect the rebranding. In doing so, you will need to update all of the internal links on your site to ensure consistency and link accuracy.
  • Renamed Pages. Making changes to uniform resource locators (URLs) often results in broken internal links.
  • Typos. Incorrect word, number, and character usage are the most common culprits when it comes to putting web content at risk of becoming inaccessible. Just one missing or wrong character can disable an entire page’s connection.


How Broken Links Affect SEO

Let’s take a closer look at how broken links hurt your website.

1. Poor User Experience

Coming across a “sorry, page not found” message is a surefire way to lose a potential customer. If you, for instance, were enthusiastically looking for information on web design and development on our site and the link you clicked was unavailable – would you give us another chance and come back? Most will look for a different source (our competitors) since this error can cloud people’s opinion of our professionalism. In other words, being unable to provide the information your visitor seeks can impact your website’s overall user experience.


2. Lower Rankings

Google’s algorithm determines the quality of websites, including how many bad or broken links exist on a particular web page. If Google detects too many broken links, it may lower the ranking of that page — or even the entire website — in its search results. In consequence, fewer people will find your website in Google searches, leading to fewer visitors and prospective customers for your business.


3. Loss of Referral Traffic

Broken links cause more damage than merely affecting the page they’re on; they also have a domino effect on the external pages that link to them.

Allow us to explain this further: When someone clicks on a dead link, not only are they unlikely to stay on your site, but any other site linking back to yours will also suffer since their visitors won’t be landing on the correct page either. For this reason, you will lose out on a profitable stream of referral traffic from other websites.


4. Loss of Link Juice

Link juice refers to the overall value passed through links from one web page or site to another. If you have broken links, none of this valuable link juice is being passed along, resulting in fewer benefits for both pages involved in the link exchange.


5. Wasted Time and Money

Plenty of time and money goes into creating content for a website, especially if it’s high-quality content like blog posts or videos backed with extensive research. When you waste your resources due to dead ends and broken links, it’s going to cost you more time and money than if you had taken care of those issues before publishing your content.


How to Find Broken Links on Your Site

Identifying broken links on your site doesn’t have to be complicated. From Google Search Console to SEMrush, these online tools make it easy for anyone with basic computer skills and SEO knowledge to pinpoint issues in a website’s internal linking structure.

Here are some of the different methods and tools you can use to find broken links.

1. Google Search Console 

Google Search Console is a powerful SEO tool that allows webmasters to monitor their site’s performance in search engine results. Simply go to the “Crawl Errors” section to check for any issues that Google has flagged on your website, including broken links.


2. Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool

The Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool is a UK-based web crawler that helps identify broken links on a site. It will crawl through every page of a website and generate a list of any broken or dead links found. In addition, the tool offers other useful features, including an analysis of page titles, meta descriptions, heading tags, alt tags, and more.

3. SEMrush Site Audit

SEMrush has a Site Audit Tool that allows you to uncover any broken links or other on-page SEO slips that may be hindering your website from reaching its full ranking potential. All it takes is a few clicks to initiate an in-depth crawl of your domain. Thereafter, SEMrush will generate a report listing all detected problems within their corresponding “Issues” section, leaving no stone unturned.


4. Manual Checking of Broken Links

AI and other online tools are changing the world as we speak, but in general, a living person’s perspective is still superior. It’s important to manually check your web pages for dead or broken links, as automated tools may not detect all issues. To check your site for broken links, navigate through your web pages and click on each link, ensuring they all lead somewhere useful or relevant. This process is tedious and may take longer than using automated tools, however, it is a worthwhile process that guarantees your website is offering the best user experience.


How to Fix Broken Links

Once you identify the causes and have detected all broken links on your website, it’s time to fix the problem.

If the page was moved or deleted, you will need to update all of the existing hyperlinks pointing toward that page. On the other hand, if the original URL is no longer accurate, you will need to update it so that the link points toward the correct destination. Once you’ve recognized and fixed your broken links, ensure to test them before making any changes live on your website.

Can’t find the root cause of your broken links? Work with an experienced SEO marketing team to make sure your website is ranking well on Google, Bing, and other search engines. Remember, addressing broken links is an important part of an effective SEO strategy, which, in turn, will help your business climb the ranks, attract new and returning customers, and secure a good brand reputation. Schedule a consultation with Primeview today.