As a business, unless you provide an excellent user experience to your customers, they are unlikely to stick around with you for long. With customers becoming smart, intelligent, impatient, and demanding, you should not expect to do well in the world of business if your customers are not happy with you. Whether you sell through a website or a physical store, your customers can stop doing business with you if you don’t keep them satisfied.
And for those visiting a website, nothing can be more annoying than the broken links.
Yes, a broken link offers a very poor user experience. It not only offers a poor user experience, but it is also not good for your SEO efforts.
So, what are broken links?
What are broken links?
People visit your site with some expectations. If you are unable to deliver on their expectations, it leaves a bad taste in their mouth. That is exactly what a broken link does to your existing and future customers.
When somebody follows a link to or from your site, they expect to see the content they have been looking for on that page. But when they are unable to see the content they want, it creates a bad user experience. It also hampers your SEO efforts, which means your website can take a hit on Google rankings.
It is important to understand that you need to be on the right side of Google to make a mark in the digital world. All your page optimisations can go for a toss if you don’t provide an excellent user experience to your visitors.
So, what are broken links?
A broken link is a hyperlink on your website that is linked to an empty or non-existent webpage. The link simply doesn’t work.
Broadly, there are three types of broken links – internal, outbound, and inbound links.
Internal links are links on your website that direct your visitors to other pages within your website. Outbound links are links to other websites that you link out to from your site. Inbound links are links from another site to your website.
Broken outbound links should make you worry. It is a tricky proposition to eliminate all broken links that point to external pages. Why? The reason for this is simple – you don’t have control over external content. It is difficult for you to know whether the site you have linked to has been removed or relocated.
As mentioned earlier, outbound broken links not only create a bad user experience, but it also hampers your SEO efforts. Google bots or Google’s web crawlers hop on every link to collect data about all the pages. Hence, it is important to audit all your outbound links periodically so that your visitors and Google don’t face inconvenience in the form of broken links.
How to fix outbound broken links?
After finding outbound broken links, you need to evaluate and fix the problem. And, this is how you can evaluate and fix the problem:
If you feel that you can do without the link in that context, you should remove the link.
If you think you should have the link at any cost, then look at the anchor text to find contextual clues to know what used to exist there.
If the anchor text doesn’t provide you any clue, then check the archive to find out what use to exist on that page.
You can do a site search to check if the content has moved.
Find the updated version and replace the broken link, or put in a new link to avoid inconvenience to your readers and Google.
Inbound broken links and 404 pages
A 404 error happens when you remove or redirect the content from your page without properly redirecting your visitors to the correct page.
There are tools available that can find 404 error pages on your site. To avoid and fix 404 error pages, you can do the following:
Instead of removing the content, keep updating them.
You can use 301 redirects to re-direct your visitors to the correct location.
If an external site is using an incorrect URL to link to your site, then you can get in touch with the webmaster and request for an updated link.
404 errors might not directly harm your SEO efforts, but it certainly results in poor user experience. And, poor user experience does affect the overall performance of your website.
SEO and user experience
As mentioned earlier, broken links harm you on two fronts – SEO and user experience. And, both are of extreme importance if you want to do well on the internet, especially on Google.
Here is how it affects both of them:
There is still a lot of debate on how broken links impact your SEO. According to Google, having one or two broken links on your website would not harm your ranking directly, but it certainly impacts you in other ways.
When search engine crawlers come across broken links, they stop crawling
When crawlers come across broken links, they stop crawling that page and move on to the next page. And, when your page can’t be crawled, it cannot be indexed, which, in turn, means it cannot be ranked.
Broken links can lower your website traffic
When your users come across a broken link, chances are they will not continue browsing your site. Due to poor user experience, they will leave your site and move to another site. And, this sends a wrong signal to search engines. When people spend less time on your site, it sends a wrong signal to the search engine algorithms. They presume that your site is not offering quality content or information to your visitors, which can lower your rankings.
Running into a broken link is a frustrating experience. And, believe it or not, but frustrating and bad experiences tend to stick around in our minds. People who have an unpleasant experience on a website don’t generally visit that site again.
Users prefer sites that work
This is a no brainer. No one wants to visit a site that offers frustrating or poor user experience. If your users are unable to complete their tasks due to the broken links on your site, then they are likely to leave you and move to your competitors. It takes a long time to build trust, but one bad experience can ruin your image forever.
All this means is you can lose money and earn a bad name for yourself in the market, which is not what you want in the digital world.
How Google Search Console helps?
So, how do you detect your broken links?
You need a tool to detect all your broken links.
That is where Google Search Console comes into the picture.
How can Google Search Console help?
Google Search Console allows you to track, maintain, and troubleshoot your website on Google search results. All you need to do is verify your website with Google Search Console and start benefitting from it. Google Search Console can detect all your broken links. You can get a Crawl Error report from Google Search Console, which lets you know the pages that have thrown up a 404 error.
If you have a big site, then it is not possible to manually check all the broken links. To detect all the broken links, you need to use Google Search Console. The tool can help you locate all the broken links in bulk.
If your website is small, you can manually check for outbound broken links with Check My Links Chrome extension. You can review each page manually and check for broken links. With this tool, you can find all the internal and external broken links. You can make a note of all the broken links in a spreadsheet so that you can fix the problem.
However, in case you still find it difficult to locate and fix the broken links, you can get in touch with vStacks Infotech now. We will make sure that we audit your site and do all the necessary work so that you can offer an excellent user experience to all your existing and future customers.