One of the most frustrating things in a website is seeing broken links. It’s frustrating for both the owner of the website and the users. It’s annoying for visitors who are expecting to find something interesting in your content and it hurts your SEO.
Website crawlers or spiders continuously crawl the links between web pages. Without these links, your web pages cannot be found by search engines. Website crawlers stop crawling a webpage whenever they come across a broken link. This means that your webpage will not be properly indexed on a search engine.
If the website crawlers find a lot of broken links on your webpage or website, they will send a signal that the usability of your website is poor which results in harming your SEO. The usability of a website is an important factor that makes up SEO.
Causes of Broken Links
Your website needs to constantly be updated so you need to do changes in your website every so often. It is imminent that some of the elements and content that you link will disappear and result in broken links. These are the possible reasons behind broken links:
- A webpage may be moved or renamed and you might have forgotten to update the internal links
- A link to a third party page was added to your website and that page is gone, has been changed, or has been moved
- You have linked to PDFs, images, and other types of content that have been deleted, moved, or renamed
Aside from the reasons mentioned above, there may be other reasons for having broken links on websites. These causes are things where we don’t have control of and they just simply happen. Your website may work perfectly on specific browsers, operating systems, or hardware platforms such as desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone but once you use a different browser, operating system, or hardware platform, it may not work properly and it may show broken links on your web pages. Another factor to consider is the version that you are using to browse the website. Browsers and operating systems upgrade to higher versions every once in a while. Your website might work on specific versions of browsers or operating systems but it may appear to have broken links once it is opened on other versions of browsers or operating systems. Below are the other causes of broken links where we have no control of:
- Change in the browser, versions of the browser, operating systems, versions of operating systems, hardware platform
- Software updates
- Updates or changes in third-party applications or software
- Computer viruses
- Hardware failure
- Pop-up blockers
Tools for Finding Broken Links on your Website
No one likes broken links because they are such a nuisance and they mean bad experience for visitors of your website. It is therefore recommended to check for broken links on your site on a regular basis. Of course, manual checking would be time-consuming so here are some tools to help you identify broken links on your site:
- Broken Link Checker
- Google Webmasters Tool
- Xenu’s Link Sleuth (Windows)
- Screaming Frog SEO Spider (Windows & Mac)
- W3C Link Checker