Do you want to reclaim “link juice” and improve user experience? Then it’s time to find and fix your site’s broken links and broken backlinks.
Doing this will almost certainly have a positive impact on your rankings.
But it’s important to note that broken links and backlinks are two entirely different problems.
As such, I’ve divided this post into two sections:
How to find and fix broken links (i.e., broken links on your site).
How to find and fix broken backlinks (i.e., broken inbound links to your site).
Both of these fixes will help to reclaim so-called “link juice” across your site and improve user experience.
IMPORTANT! This post is NOT about the telemarketing list so-called “broken link building” strategy, which involves exploiting your competitors’ broken backlinks to build new links to your site. If you wish to learn more about this strategy, check out our full guide to broken link building.
Beginner's guide to link building
New to link building? Check out our
Beginner’s guide to link building
1. How to find and fix broken links on your website
Broken links are those on your site that point to non-existent resources—these can be either internal (i.e., to other pages on your domain) or external (i.e., to pages on other domains.)
This is what a broken internal link looks like:
(It goes from one page on ahrefs.com to another—yet the page it points to doesn’t exist.)
…And this is what a broken external link looks like:
(It goes from a page on ahrefs.com to a non-existent page on another domain.)
Here are the only two ways that broken (dead) links can end up on your website:
The linked-to site decides to delete or remove the page you are linking to—this is known as “link rot”;
You unwittingly end up linking to the wrong URL (i.e., you make a mistake when adding the link to your website)
Some people say that broken outgoing links (both internal and external) effectively waste “link juice”—this is due to the way Google’s PageRank algorithm works.
Some people also say that they hinder your websites crawlability.
(For more information on the issue of “do 404’s hurt my site?”, check out this article from Google.)
But technicalities aside, one thing is for sure: broken outgoing links (both internal and external) lead to a poor user experience.
You should, therefore, make every effort to fix them—it’s easy, I promise!
Step #1: Finding ALL broken links on your site
For small websites, you can use Site Explorer to find all broken external links.
(It will pick up most, if not all, of the broken external links for smaller websites.)
Site Explorer -> yourdomain.com -> Outgoing links -> Broken links.
ahrefs broken links report
SIDENOTE. You can view this report for any site, it doesn’t have to be a site that you own. Check out our guide to broken link building to see how this can be used to build new backlinks to your site.
But for larger websites, it’s better to use Site Audit; this will perform a live crawl of your website and thus, will ensure that you don’t miss any broken links.
To see broken external links (with Site Audit):
Site Audit -> Project -> External Pages -> HTTP status codes -> 4XX.
external 404 ahrefs site audit
But what about broken internal links? (e.g., yourdomain.com/page -> yourdomain.com/broken-page)