This is going to be your one-stop guide to finding and fixing broken outbound links. You might already know that broken links hurt SEO. Most of the Search Engine Optimizers ignore or forget to optimize this factor of SEO. In my case, I migrated to a new domain address. Migration created a lot of 404 errors which I wasn’t aware of. My rankings were less as compared to before. So, I took a look at 404 requests in Google Analytics. Well, this is the case of internal broken links.
Talking about external broken links or outbound broken links, you need to be equally careful about them. Sometimes, the websites you are linking to, change their link structure, or anything can be the reason. So, if the URL is changed on the host website, your links will become broken. In that case, it will surely affect your SEO rankings.
In this Broken Links Finding and Fixing Guide, we’ll take a look at:
What are Broken External (Outbound) Links?
You must have encountered a link that leads you to a dead end. For example, let’s say you clicked a link on this page, and you thought the link would take you to the information you’ve clicked. Instead, you end up being on a dead page, which we call a 404 error page. The link which leads you to a 404 page is a broken external link. So, in simple words, a link linking to a 404 page is called a broken link. A broken link can be an internal link, or it can be an external link depending on where it is targeting.
How Does a Broken Outbound Link Hurt Your SEO Rankings?
An outbound link is a link that is pointing towards a different site from your website. So, when you link to an external page from your website, it is called an outbound link. Taking care of all external links can be a hard task as you don’t have control over the availability of the external web page. For example, if the page you are pointing to is removed or the url of that page changes, you cannot do anything about it.
Not just for user experience, Broken links are also bad for your SEO rankings. The reason is that a broken link creates a disturbance in link juice flowing between links and websites. Which is the reason Google doesn’t like broken links nor the user.
The basic reason why broken external links affect your SEO rankings is that GoogleBot jumps from link to link and collects data about each page linking to each other. So if they encounter a dead end, it will stop the link juice and ruin the user experience.
Doing a regular analysis of broken outbound links is an important task in SEO. However, it won’t require much work or effort; you can easily check for broken outbound links and fix them.
How to Find Broken External Links?
There are plenty of methods and tools available by which you can find broken external links on your website. ScreamingFrog and ahrefs are the two most popular tools for finding broken links in a website. We’ll be discussing all the popular and working methods to find broken links on your website.
Check My Links Chrome Extension
If you have a website with just a few pages or a blog with few blog posts, you can conduct a manual review of each page using the “Check My Links” chrome Add-on, which you can download for free from the Chrome store. Using this add-on, you can find both internal and external broken links.
Once you are on your website page, click on the add-on button on the right top of your browser. It will show working links with green color and broken links with red color. So, you’ll know which link is broken, and you can fix that easily. Create an excel sheet and keep record of broken links you found using the plugin, and then once you are done with finding. You can fix each link.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Conducting a manual review of broken links is not possible (logical) for websites with many pages. A manual review will take days, weeks, or even months to have 100k+ pages reviewed on your website. So, using software is the best way to find broken external links on big websites.
Screaming Frog is among the best SEO tools in the industry. You can use their free version software to review web pages up to 500. In the case of more than 500 web pages, you can use the paid version of Screaming Frog.
The process is quite simple; after installing the software, you need to put your website address in the top address bar and click “Start”. Next, click on the 4th tab, which will be “Response Codes” and filter with “Client Error (4xx)”. The software will show you 404 error urls. To see the source page of the 404 url, click on the link and select “inlinks” tab at the bottom. You’ll see the web page and the error URL along with the anchor text of the error url.
Everyone who is involved in SEO must have heard this name. Ahrefs is the second-best SEO research tool after SEMRush. Its broken link checker helps in finding internal as well as broken external links with ease. First, you need to enter the website address and head to the broken links section given on the left of the page.
Here is the process to reach the broken link section: Site Explorer >> Enter Domain >> Outgoing Link >> Broken Links. That’s It.
Using ahrefs, you can schedule broken links checking on a daily, weekly, or monthly cycle. All the links of the error pages can be exported to a CSV file and studied or sorted using a spreadsheet.
If you are not willing to download screamingfrog or pay for ahrefs, you can use this tool called DeadLinkChecker. Using DeadLinkChecker is easy; you need to enter the website address and click on the “check” button.
How to Fix Broken Outbound Links?
So now, when you know about the broken links and pages they are placed on, it is time to fix those broken links and improve your SEO rankings and user experience. Unfortunately, fixing all the links will be a time-consuming task and cannot be automated.
Open the excel sheet which you created manually or exported from the broken link checker tool. For the first time, it will take time, but it is not going to be this hard and time taking from the next time.
Here are the fixes you can try to fix broken links on your page:
- If the context of your content is clear without linking to a page, then remove the broken link. For example, if it is a citation, you can put the url of the citation at the bottom of the article. Keep the URL as plain text, don’t put any permalink in it.
- If it is required to link to some trusted resource or a trusted website, look for alternative sites that match your reference and place that website link by replacing the broken link.
- Contact the website webmaster and ask if they can share the updated url for the link showing 404 error now.
- You can search for better content or page to link. It is a good practice to keep updating your references to the latest resources.
- If you are unable to find any other page to link then simply remove the broken link and keep it as it is.
So, these were some easy fixes to broken link problems. Hope you liked this quick guide to fixing broken outbound links.