We have all experienced this at least once. You have been searching endlessly online for a particular product and just when you think you have found what you are looking for, you click on the link and immediately get taken to a dead end. This is commonly called a 404 error or also called a broken link.

What Is a Broken Link?

A broken link is quite simply a link on a web site that no longer works because the website is experiencing one or more of the following issues:

  • The destination web page has been moved or no longer exists.
  • An invalid URL  has been entered for the link by the web page owner.
  • The linked web page has been removed from the web site.

Though Google tells us that 404 errors may not hurt your SEO, the broken links could hurt your user’s experience on your website and cause higher bounce rates.

We will show you how to Detect, Avoid, and Fix those annoying 404 errors on your site so that you may keep your visitors on your site longer and more engaged.

Detect

There are many plugins and software available that allow you to search for 404 errors and broken links. Some of them have been found to be unreliable as they tend to be a cpu hog and slow down your website and even your computer.

The best method we recommend for detecting broken links on your website is through the use of Google Search Console.

To perform this simple task you should:

  • Sign into your Google account that is linked to your website.
  • Navigate to Google Search Console
  • Click on your account
  • On the sidebar to the left, go to the drop down menu labeled “Crawl”
  • Click on “Crawl Errors”
  • Click on the link and you’ll be able to view detailed information about that broken link.

Avoid

You can avoid and prevent unwanted 404 error messages. Instead of deleting pages with old information, consider refreshing and updating your content.

Fix

One of the most common and easiest methods of correcting broken links on your website is by way of creating 301 Redirects through HT Access in your direct admin access page.

Creating a 301 Redirect File

The syntax for creating the 301 redirect file will look like this:

Redirect 301 /landing-page-2 http://www.yourdomain.com/landing-page-1

  • /landing-page-2 is everything behind the forward slash after your domain name
  • The second half is the FULL url of the new page where the link would be directed to.

Updating The 301 Redirects via HT Access

Editing the HT Access File can be simple but may also be very dangerous if you are not familiar with the process. We do want to give the warning that one missing character could crash your entire website. It is highly recommended that you copy the entire file and paste it into notepad so that you have a back-up in the case you break your website.

  • Login into your direct admin access page.
  • Go to File Manager
  • Open the public_html folder
  • In the account settings, make sure that  show hidden files is checked.
  • Click on the edit button to edit the HT Access file.
  • Insert in the 301 redirect
  • Press save
  • Click on the old broken link and ensure that it is going to the new destination.

Broken Links From External Sources

Sometimes you may receive a broken link error due to an external source improperly linking back to you with an incorrect URL. To correct this, it is recommended that you reach out to the author or webmaster and request an update to the incorrect URL.

Correcting broken links on your site can go a long way in improving your website’s SEO, provide a greater user experience, and improve the performance of your site. But it can also be very overwhelming and confusing. We can help. Contact our Digital Marketing Strategists in Raleigh, NC at 919-341-8901 or Schedule a Complimentary Consultation and Website Review Today.