Broken LinksBroken links are links that no longer work... they do not take you to the intended page because the intended page is no longer on the internet. Broken links frustrate the visitor to your website and if you have too many broken links they are likely to leave your website and not return. There are three types of links which may break, but fortunately in each case there are ways to resolve the situation and minimise the effect.
These are links from one page to another page within your website.
- If you remove a webpage from your site you should remove all links to that page from wherever they appear in your website. This may include your homepage, navigation menus and sitemap pages. If you fail to do that then any person clcking on a link to a non-existent page will get a 404 Page not found error message.
- Try to get into the habit of when you remove a page from your website you remove all links that might exist on your website to the removed page.
- Create a custom 404 page, amend your .htaccess file and upload to your server. This will ensure that any visitors to your website if they encounter a broken link will still remain on your website. The 404 error page will communicate to the visitor that they are being shown a 404 Page Not Found Error page, they will be told that the page they requested cannot be found and they will be given a link taking them to a page (often the home page) where they can find alternative information. This is an example of a 404 error page... Error page
- Use a broken link checker to check your website for broken links
External links - Links from your website
You need to check periodically that any links on your website to pages on other websites are still valid
The Broken link checkers referenced above can check both internal and external links.
External links - Links to your website
Of particular concern are links to your web site on Google search engine results pages. If you have removed an indexed page then people clicking on such a link will be taken to your custom error page (assuming you have created one) an alternative is to create a 301 permanent redirect on your server from your removed page to your homepage.
This is of particular value if you have undertaken a major re-design and the new file names are different from the old file names. (You can save a lot of broken link problems and the time you need to spend on their resolution by not deleting/removing pages unless absolutely necessary. If you have pages such as about-us.html, products.html, services.html, testimonials.html etc amend those pages as and when necessary but keep the same file names if at all possible).
Other articles by Michael Fowler:
Choosing the right domain name extension - Michael Fowler
Discussion of the different domain name extensions available and their suitability for different types of website.
Hosting Reviews - Michael Fowler
A listing of leading website hosting companies with links to Review centre and Trust Pilot reviews
Sitemaps - Michael Fowler
Discussion of the different types of sitemap, their value and the desirability of using them on a website