Technical SEO

Broken Links

Shahid Maqbool

By Shahid Maqbool
On Apr 4, 2023

Broken Links

What are Broken Links?

Broken links refer to the links that lead a searcher to a missing or error page. This can happen due to many reasons:

  • A typing error in the URL

  • A deleted page

  • A programming error

  • A migrated page whose URL has not been updated yet or properly redirected

Broken links can lead to poor user experience, and you may miss out on massive traffic that will negatively impact your SEO efforts.

FYI: Broken links are also called Defective Links and Dead Links.

Different types of broken links

Depending upon the type of the links, you may experience the following types of broken or defective links:

Broken internal links

If there is an error on a link that is within your website, it is a broken internal link. Broken internal links can occur if:

  • You have changed the URL of your website

  • Left a page during site migration

  • Deleted a page

Google uses the existing links (internal links) to explore other pages on your website. If there are broken internal links, then Google will find it hard to crawl internal pages on your website.

As a result, It may have negative consequences on your crawl budget.

When internal links break, they will create orphan pages. If a page only has one incoming link and that is broken, search engines like Google find it difficult to locate the content if it isn’t included in the sitemap.

As such, maintaining your website structure is essential for making sure all of its pieces are found!

Broken external links

If your pages have broken links pointing to external websites, these links are called broken external links. If you have broken external links on your website, it may lead to a poor user experience.

It will tell Google that your website is not a trustworthy source for the searchers as it links to missing or dead sites.

Maintaining a regular website check is essential, as external links - you don't control - can easily break.

If you find any broken links, be sure to replace them with working ones or remove the link completely.

Broken backlinks

Broken backlinks, also referred to as dead links, are links that point toward a web page that no longer exists or is inaccessible. This can happen because the page was moved, deleted, or no longer exists.

Broken backlinks can have an adverse effect on website performance and user experience. They can lead to higher bounce rates, decreased website rankings, and lower user engagement.

You should follow several best practices to prevent broken backlinks from impacting your website performance.

First, regularly check for any broken internal links on your site and update them accordingly.

Second, use 301 redirects to the pages that have been moved or deleted.

Third, use tools such as ahrefs to detect dead links.

Finally, be sure to monitor backlinks for any broken links pointing toward your website and take appropriate action if necessary.

Examples of broken links

Here are examples of defective links that you may experience when a link is broken.

404 Page Not Found

This shows the requested URL or page doesn’t exist on this server.

400 Bad Request

This shows that the server cannot identify the page or source a searcher is trying to reach.


This error indicates that the server is too busy or misconfigured to process the request and has dropped the connection.


This error occurs when the server takes too much time to respond.

Bad Host

A bad host is also called an invalid hostname. This indicates that the server with this name is not accessible or no longer exists.


This indicates that the URL is wrong due to typo errors.

Bad Code

This indicates that the server has flagged the HTTP code due to invalid syntax.


The server returns “ERR_EMPTY_RESPONSE” when no data is being sent or transmitted.

What are the causes of defective links?

There are several things that may cause broken links. Knowing the cause is essential before fixing the broken links.

Typing errors

This is a common error that occurs due to typos. A single change in the URL (even a slash or hyphen) can cause the broken error.

Deleted page

If a link is pointing toward a page that has been deleted, it will show you an error message. It can be the intentional deletion of a page or may occur accidentally.

Renaming URLs & Restructuring your website

Renaming URLs and not redirecting the old ones to the new ones will lead to broken links. If you have renamed your URLs and have not redirected them to the new URLs, the server will not know how to process this request, and as a result, it will give an error page.

For instance, if you have a URL, and you rename it like

All the links pointing to the old URL will be shown as broken links.

For that, you need to redirect the old URL to a newer one to make sure that renaming won’t cause any issues in the near future.

Domain name change

Sometimes, the entire domain name is changed due to the merger or rebranding of a business. If a proper SEO migration plan is not implemented, it may lead to several broken links.

Downloadable files are moved or removed

Sometimes downloadable links are present on your website in the form of audio, videos, images, and PDFs.

When this content is moved elsewhere or removed, the links pointing to these downloadable content pages will be broken.

Your website is down

When your website is down, all the links pointing to your website will be broken or defective. It will significantly drop off the website traffic.

You need to identify whether your website is down due to some errors in hosting services or the domain name.

How to find broken links on your website?

There are different methods to find broken links on a website according to their type.

How to find broken internal links?

Plenty of tools will help you identify broken internal links on your website.

  • Google Analytics

It is a free tool that will help you identify 404 error pages on your website. Go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. It will show you pages with 404 errors if there are any.

  • Sitebulb

Download Sitebulb. Enter your website for which you want to see internal broken links.

Go to the Link Explorer option and then Internal Links. Here you will find all broken links under the Not Found option.

Export this data to an Excel file or Google Docs for review. 

  • Screaming Frog

Download Screaming Frog and add the site to “Enter URL to spider”. 

Locate the Response Codes tab and then Internal > Internal Error 4XX.

Export this data in an Excel file to analyze Internal broken links.

How to fix broken internal links?

In case of broken internal links, you have more control over your website and its links, so you can quickly fix them.

Here are a few methods you may use to fix broken internal links:

Remove the link

This is a quick fix. If you have a more relevant and informative page to link to, you can add a link to that page; otherwise, removing the link is the best option.

Redirect it

If a page has been moved, you may add a redirect to the new page.

Make your page live

If you accidentally remove a page, you can make it live again. Don’t have a copy of that page? You can find it using the Wayback machine.

Correct the typing errors

Broken links may also occur due to typing mistakes. Double-check your URLs for any typing mistakes and fix them.

How to find broken external links?

  • Sitebulb

Download Sitebulb. Enter your website for which you want to see external broken links.

Go to the Link Explorer option and then External Links. Here you will find all broken links under the Not Found option.

Export this data to an Excel file or Google Docs for review. 

  • Screaming Frog

Download Screaming Frog and add the site to “Enter URL to spider”. 

Locate the Response Codes tab and then External > External Client Error 4XX.

Export this data in an Excel file to analyze external broken links.

  • Ahrefs

Go to Ahrefs Site Explorer and enter the URL.

Now go to the Broken Links option under outgoing links on the left side. Here you will find a list of all the broken external links along with their error cause, i.e. 404 Not Found, 400 Bad Request, etc.

You can also export this data in a .CSV file.

How to fix broken external links?

These links happen when you link to another website, and that link no longer exists.

After identifying the links using the above-mentioned methods, you can fix them by removing them entirely or replacing them with other relevant internal or external links.

How to find broken backlinks?

Here are some most popular tools to identify broken backlinks.

  • Ahrefs

Enter your website URL in the search box. Go to the Broken Backlinks option under Backlinks. Here you will find a list of all broken backlinks pointing toward your broken pages.

How to fix broken backlinks?

In the case of broken backlinks, you will not have full authority over them. However, you may adopt different strategies to fix broken backlinks.

Contact the linking websiteIf there is an error at the end of the linking website, you can let them know. Reach out to the website owner via email and ask them to fix the issue.

Redirect the broken pageIf you have changed the URL, now redirect the old page to the newer one.

For example, if the old post was about Best SEO Practices, but that has been broken, you may redirect it to another relevant post which could be 5 Strategies You Need To Adopt For Better SEO.

How are dead links bad for SEO?

These links can be bad for SEO because they create a poor user experience and can negatively impact website rankings.

When a user clicks on a dead link, they will be directed to an error page, such as a 404 page not found error.

This can be frustrating for the user and can cause them to leave the website, increasing the website's bounce rate.

A high bounce rate can signal to search engines that the website is not providing a good user experience, which can negatively impact search engine rankings.

Additionally, search engine crawlers may follow dead links when indexing a website.

If a search engine crawler encounters too many dead links, it may have difficulty indexing the website, which can also negatively impact search engine rankings.

Therefore, it is important for website owners to regularly check their website for broken links and fix them promptly to ensure a good user experience and maintain strong search engine rankings.


Broken links point toward the pages that do not exist. There can be several reasons, including page deletion, typos, and renaming URLs.

Broken links affect several important factors, including ranking, bounce rate, user experience, and authority, regardless of their cause.

Fixing these links is quite important to avoid negative consequences. If broken links are internal, they are easy to fix as you have greater control over your website.

However, if defective links are external, you need to make an extra effort to restore them. It involves reaching out to the website owners or adding a proper 301 redirect.

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