Over time, websites will inevitably accumulate broken links. But what exactly is a link and why would it be broken?
What is a Link?
Simply put, a link (also known as a hyperlink) is a snippet of text within a web page, that when clicked, redirects the website visitor to another web page or digital file (i.e. PDF, Word Document, image, etc.). A website’s navigation menu is one example of how links are used within a website.
Why would a link be Broken?
There could be any number of reasons why a website link might be broken. Here are a few.
- The website linked to is no longer available (i.e. server or website is down).
- The website page URL has changed and no redirect has been set up.
- The URL in the link was incorrect (i.e. a typo) from the get go.
How Do I Know if a Link is Broken?
When you click on a link that is broken, you should be redirected to a 404 Page Not Found Error. This type of error means that the web page you were trying to reach, via the link, cannot be found.
Types of Links
There are three kinds of website links.
An absolute link is one that links to a document or web page using a complete URL. That is, it includes the entire URL structure such as “https://prominentweb.com/web-design-development/”
A relative link is one that links to a document or web page that is located within the same domain, and as such, utilizes the file path without the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) and the domain. An example of this would be: “/wordpress-theme-development/ rather an https://prominentweb.com/wordpress-theme-development/.
An inline link is one that links to information within a different section of the same web page. An example of this would be a jump link.
SEO Implications of a Broken Link
When it comes to search engines, having broken links within your website negatively impact the visitor experience. Why? Broken links can leave a visitor frustrated when content that they are expecting to see cannot be accessed because the link they click, instead returns a 404 Page Not Found Error. This then can lead to lower conversions and higher bounce rates. Broken links also indicate to search engines that your website is not well-maintained.
Should Broken Links Be Fixed?
Fixing broken links is definitely a wise course of action as it can reduce bounce rate and increase user engagement and conversions. It also improves the ability for your website to be crawled by search engine bots. This in turn, lets search engines know that your website is well-maintained and not outdated.