Handling Broken & Redirected Links

Rachel Costello
Rachel Costello

7 min read

In this section of our guide to linking, we’ll explain the issues that broken and redirected links can cause for a site, and we’ll also give you best practice advice on how to identify and handle those problem links.

Broken Links

Broken links are internal links to pages that return a 4XX error, such as a 404 error (Page Not Found), which are experienced when a user or search engine lands on a dead link. Server issues, discontinued content or just mistyped links can result in huge volumes of broken links on some sites. This is especially prominent when the links are includes in reused site templates, such as headers and footers.
404 error example
There are three main elements that can be negatively impacted by broken links:

  1. Broken links waste crawl budget and send search engines to dead ends within your website’s architecture. The more broken links you have on your site, the more requests bots need to make to dead pages which cuts into valuable crawl budget.
  2. Pages that have existing good PageRank from high quality backlinks can lose this when the page is repeatedly returned to search engines under a 404 status. This can overall hurt the authority of your site.
  3. The most obvious impact of a broken link is to user experience. Clicking on dead links is not only frustrating but affects your page and site engagement which not only can affect your crawl budgets for SEO, but also quality scores across paid traffic channels.

How to Identify & Fix Broken Links

The best way to fix broken links is to change them at the source rather than implementing a redirect on the destination URL. Here’s how to identify broken link issues:

Google Search Console crawl errors

Image source: www.rebelytics.com/crawl-errors-google-search-console/

Now that you’ve compiled a list of error pages, here’s how you can fix broken link issues:

You should ensure you are checking for broken links consistently, or at least at regular intervals, as they can be easily fixed and impact SEO performance.

Redirecting links

Redirecting links are links which point to pages with 301, 302 or any other 3XX HTTP status codes, as well as META refreshes. This also includes links with redirection chains.

Here are the different ways in which redirecting links can negatively impact a website:

It’s important to note that in the case of HTTP to HTTPS 301 or 302 redirects do not cause any loss in PageRank, as confirmed by Google.

How to Identify & Fix Redirecting Links

Similar to the solution for fixing broken links, the best way to fix redirecting links is to change them at the source. Here’s how to identify redirecting link issues:

Now you’ve compiled a list of internal redirects on your site, here’s how to fix redirecting link issues:


Rachel Costello
Rachel Costello

Rachel Costello is a Former Technical SEO & Content Manager at Deepcrawl. You'll most often find her writing and speaking about all things SEO.

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