Yes, broken links hurt SEO. And it also affects the user experience. So SEO and website owners need to worry about this on their websites, which can negatively affect their ranking. However, since we know that broken links hurt SEO, it does not do it directly. Not as bad as it sounds.
Google is aware that broken links are a natural occurrence on the website. However, broken links hurt SEO indirectly. How? It affects user experience, which is a ranking factor. That is how it goes. Did you see the string? Let us talk about it briefly.
These links become annoying for people when they try to open a page through links and cannot reach their desired page causing a poor experience. Once you fix these broken links, you cannot expect growth in traffic immediately because, first, you need to ensure the users have a better experience on your website.
Another way broken links hurt SEO is that the link juice is wasted. Since this link juice will lead to another web page, it won’t because it is broken. So wasted! And especially when we talk about outbound or broken backlinks, it will give a negative signal to Google.
How to Find these Broken Links?
Here are a few methods and tools that will help you find broken links:
Google Search Console – Broken Links Hurt SEO
In the google search console, google will help you discover your website’s issues, one of which is broken links, with the help of a coverage report. This report will only show broken internal links that should be the top priority because internal links are more critical than external or backlinks.
Once you open the coverage report, you will find Excluded section. Click on it. You will find the errors that are mentioned below:
- Not found (404 error)
- Blocked due to access being forbidden (403)
- Soft 404
- Blocked due to other issues.
Once you click on one of these errors, you will find the suspected URL. You can inspect this URL to get more information about the issues and broken links. And if you click on the referred page, you will find the broken link coming from.
Use the SEMrush tool for auditing your website once you crawl it and wait to finish it. Once your website report is ready, go to the Issues tab. After you open it, you will find different errors that are mentioned below:
- Page returned to 4xx status code
- Internal Links are broken.
- External links are broken.
- Page returned to the 5xx status code.
Once you click on one of these errors, you will get the list of broken links.
How to Fix these Broken links? (Broken Links Hurt SEO)
Now you know that your website broken links are waiting to get fixed. Then why are you waiting? Let us help you with this problem. There are N issues that can lead to this problem but let us break down these issues into simpler ones. Let us start with an easy one:
Wronged spelt URLs: Sometimes, if there is a spelling mistake, the link can break, so you should always recheck before inserting the link.
4xx Internal Links: Always check your internal links before they are used on any page. If any internal link you have used is returning to the 4xx error, you need to check why the link is broken.
5xx Internal Links: If a 5xx error occurs, you need to check your website server, or website hosting may be causing this issue.
Broken Outbound Links: Broken backlinks can usually occur when the old source does not exist anymore or the website has been removed. Or if the website is working, the page may have been moved. Another problem is that the page you linked to your website can have a 5xx error. Again, you can wait until the issue is solved, but we advise removing the link.
Though broken links take time, you need to fix them because they hurt SEO. And this can affect user experience, ranking position and traffic. However, as we have mentioned earlier, you won’t see a drastic change in traffic once you fix the broken links. So first, get your hands-on user experience, and then other things will follow.