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what are dead links

What Are Dead Links and How Do They Affect SEO?

As a business owner, you can significantly increase your online presence and boost lead generation with an SEO-optimized website full of service pages, blogs, and other relevant content. Though a dead link on your website can occur anytime, failing to fix the link quickly will affect your website’s SEO and efficiency.

What are dead links? As a leading SEO company based in New Jersey, Peppermonkey Media can answer all your questions about dead links and their effect on SEO. 

What Is a Broken Link?

SEO or search engine optimization is essential for e-commerce sales. It’s a collection of practices, such as using keywords and backlinks, that make it easier for search engine algorithms to identify your website as a quality source and index your web content. Proper SEO usage will improve your search engine rankings and make it easier for potential customers to find you online. 

So, what are dead links? A dead or broken link is a hyperlink on your website that links to another webpage that no longer works. Most dead links are an “error 404,” which means the link doesn’t exist anymore, but there are other reasons a link will fail to connect to a page when someone clicks on it.

Examples of broken links include the following:

  • Bad URL: URL does not have the correct form
  • Empty: Host server has empty responses without content or response codes
  • 404 Page Not Found: The web page does not exist on the server
  • 400 Bad Request: Host server misunderstands your page’s URL link

Common Dead Link Causes

Dead links exist for multiple reasons. For instance, you might mistype or misspell the URL or link to a web page with a firewall restriction that doesn’t permit outside access. You could also link to a video, PDF, or other content that no longer exists because its owner deleted or moved it. 

Other reasons include:

  • A moved or offline external website
  • A recently changed URL structure
  • Broken elements, such as CSS or HTML, within the page 

Do Broken Links Negatively Impact SEO?

Now that you understand the basic answer to the question “what are dead links?” you likely want to know how they affect your business website’s SEO. Uncovering one or two broken links likely won’t cause your search engine rankings to drop dramatically. 

Google, the world’s most-used search engine, uses sophisticated algorithms. It understands that broken external links are common, so it won’t automatically drop a website’s ranking due to the presence of one. However, broken links can indirectly affect your website in several ways. 

Poor User Experience

According to RV University, user experience is essential online for boosting functionality, usability, and accessibility of a website in a way that makes it pleasurable for visitors to navigate the page. Though your online ranking might not drop, dead links contribute to a poor user experience. Visitors who find websites uncredible due to broken links are not likely to return to the site, reducing your pages’ ability to generate leads. 

People tend to become annoyed when they click on a keyword expected to receive additional information about the phrase. If you want to turn website visitors into sales leads and potential customers, you must address dead links immediately to maintain your business’s reputation. 

Increased Bounce Rate

It takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to build an SEO-optimized website and generate a high search engine ranking. However, if your site contains too many dead links, search engines will assume the website is neglected or lacks sufficient routine maintenance, making it harder for potential customers to find your website when they search for relevant terms. 

Despite taking advantage of link-building opportunities, the effort will be for nothing if you can’t keep visitors on your website. Guests will likely leave your site immediately if they click a broken link. Without people staying on your site and clicking valid links, Google’s algorithms will assume your website lacks information or is of low quality, resulting in a higher bounce rate. 

How to Find Dead Links on Your Website

You can identify dead links using Google Search Console, which will provide information about the broken links it uncovers on the Coverage Report. The Coverage Report is exclusive to broken internal links. Note the dead links on the “Excluded” section of the report by clicking on these errors:

  • 404 Page Not Found
  • Soft 404
  • Blocked due to other 4xx issues
  • Blocked due to unauthorized requests
  • Blocked due to 403 forbidden access

If you use Screaming Frog to crawl through your website to check for dead links, scroll the right side menu to “Response Codes” to find “Client Error (4xx)” and “Server Error (5xx).” The reports will reveal your broken inbound and outbound links.

For a SemRush Site Audit, use the SemRush Site Audit tool to initiate over 120 on-page and technical SEO checks to uncover dead links on your site. Start the audit by clicking “Management,” “Project,” and “Create Project” under the main menu. After clicking “Start Site Audit,” the final website analysis will produce a list of broken links. 

Best Practices for Handling Broken Links

You can explore several options to address the broken links you find during a website audit. For instance, you can set up a URL redirection for a dead internal link with a 4xx error if the content you need to link is on a new URL. You can also fix misspelled URLs and replace links to service or product pages that are no longer valid. 

Sometimes, third-party resources remove linked pages or URLs. If that’s the case, relink the pages manually. 

Eliminate the Risk of Dead Links with Our Digital Marketing Experts

If you’re still asking yourself, “What are dead links?” you will benefit from our professional services. At Peppermonkey Media, our marketing professionals have years of experience helping small and medium-sized businesses grow and expand their online presence. We offer search engine optimization, social media marketing, pay-per-click advertisement management, and link-building services

Improve your business website’s standing with search engines by contacting Peppermonkey Media today at (888) 231-9764 for a consultation. 

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