Bringing Dead Links Back to Life: How to Repair Dead Links on Your Website


Dead Links

A dead link is anything that does not work. While many think that links to their websites are the only thing that matters, this is not always the case. From time to time, you may be linking out to other websites for reference, or perhaps you use affiliate links.

What if some of those links no longer work? 

What’s gonna happen is that Google will find out. And if Google sees this, the algorithm will tag your content as incomplete and irrelevant, making your website rank lower. This is why you have to restore dead links.

But how?

Here are some tips:

  • Use Google Analytics
  • Use a Plug-in

You will receive a walkthrough today on how to use both. But before that, let us talk about this: why should you even fix these links?

Why Should You Fix Dead Links? 

A dead link results in Error 404. If a person clicks on an anchor text or a link and got this error, it results in several things.

Bad User Experience

A site visitor on your website trusts you. But if your links are broken, this trust gets cracks until the site visitor no longer believes in you. As a result, you may rank high but if the site visitor has had a bad experience, he is not coming back to your site.

Bad for SEO

If the link is broken, you are breaking a chain of authority and seo juice. You are linking back to a site because you want to become a part of the community. But if your links are broken, search engines would find out. Broken links pretty much tell search engines that you are not doing a good job of sharing information. 

Bad for Your Traffic

Broken links can work the other way around. It is possible that some sites are linking back to you, but those links are broken.

Why? Because you may have moved a page, or it is likely that you have deleted the page. 

You may think that this is not important because Google does not really measure the quality of backlinks in relation to your website. However, broken links leading to your site means you are losing a lot of traffic juice.

Just imagine if a website has a million visitors per month. If that website links back to you, and there are about 10,000 people interested in reading your blog, you just lost that traffic. 10,000 people is a lot, and you could have retained a huge portion of that to become your followers or leads.

You have to fix dead links not only for outgoing ones but also inbound links that lead to your website. Let us discuss the two ways how you can do this. We will not include manually looking for dead links, as this is time-consuming and is generally not recommended.

When we say manual, it means going to each of your web pages and clicking on each link to see if it is working. As you can imagine, this is a nightmare you do not want to get into if you have hundreds of pages on your blog.



Use Google Analytics

To find broken links with Google Analytics, you first have to integrate it with your website. Register for a Google Analytics account and then add your website. Once the two are integrated, you can start looking for dead links.

To find broken backlinks, follow these steps:

  • Go to Customization > Custom Reports> + New Custom Reports
  • Add a name for your report in the Report Content, choose Flat Table
  • Click on Add Dimension > Previous Page Path
  • Click on Add Dimension > Page Title
  • Click on Add Metrics and then choose Unique Page Views 
  • Click on Add a Filter, choose Previous Page Path; to the left, choose exclude. Beside this to the right, select Exact, then add Entrance 
  • Add another filter and this time, Page Title; click on Include, and then beside this to the right, choose Regex, and then add 404

Click Save and then you will see a report. Import that report and then you can now visit your webpages that are no longer working.

In this case, you can send an email to the websites backlinking to you, and tell them that the links no longer work, or create a new page and do a 301 redirect. 

What if you want to find your outgoing links via Google Analytics? Follow these steps:

  • Go to Customization > Custom Reports> + New Custom Reports
  • Add a name for your report in the Report Content, choose Flat Table
  • Click on Add Dimension > Full Referrer
  • Click on Add Dimension > Page Title
  • Click on Add Metrics and then choose Unique Page Views 
  • Click on Add a Filter, choose Previous Page Path; to the left, choose exclude. Beside this to the right, select Exact, then add Entrance 
  • Add another filter and this time, Page Title; click on Include, and then beside this to the right, choose Regex, and then add 404 (you can also use other broken link titles like 301 or other types of error codes)

Click Save and then you will see a report. The next step to do is to go to each of your web page or blog post that has the links that the Analytics showed you, and then fix them.

You can either delete the links, or find another resource that is related to your anchor text, and then use that link to replace the dead links.

Use a Plug-in

One of the fastest ways to find broken links on your blog is to use a plug-in. One of the most popular is Broken Links.

All you have to do is to install the plug-in, and then activate it. After this, there are no other steps to take but to check the report.

Once you can see the report, hover your mouse on each broken link. From there, you can edit the link. You can change the anchor text or just choose to unlink the dead links. Another option to take is to change the URL.

After making the changes, do not forget to click on the Update button to make the changes take effect. This tool will not be able to identify backlinks to your site, but it can find all broken internal links. This is a good start, and then you can use Google Analytics later if you want to fix more links.

Other popular plug-ins that can help you do the same are:

  • Screaming Frog
  • W3C Link Checker

Test all these three and decide which ones best fit your needs. 

Summary

Fixing broken links is one of the best practices in SEO. Do this at least once a month, and fix broken links immediately. If you are just starting now, you have to take the time to get it done before it can further damage your SEO rankings and customer experience.

Over time, these dead links will reduce significantly and you may be changing only one per month or none at all.



John Kilmerstone

I'm an Aussie living in Japan who enjoys traveling, photography and blogging. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of blogging. Discover how to turn your passions and pastimes into an online business.

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