Have you ever been browsing a website and come across a 404 page not found error? Annoying right? And you wouldn’t want that to happen on your website, leading to your potential customers getting frustrated and leaving your website, potentially buying from a competitor instead. Not only is it poor for user experience, but can also have negative connotations for SEO too. Can you expect search engines to trust a website which doesn’t work properly?
In this blog post we look at how you can analyse your website for broken pages and go about fixing them.
Analysing Your Website For Broken Pages
There are multiple ways in which you can find broken links, but our favourite tool to use is Screaming Frog (Free for up to 500 URLs). The reason we like to use Screaming Frog is because it allows you to do real time crawls so you’re looking at the latest data for your website. It may not be suitable for bigger websites however.
Screaming Frog is an easy to use tool, however can be a little confusing for new users. The first step is to enter your website in the top bar which will start the crawl of your website. Once this has been completed you should be able to see information across 3 panels.
The first of which we need to look at is the right hand side which shows a breakdown of different elements you may want to look at. If you scroll down this you should see a sub heading for “Response Codes” with an option for “Client Error (4xx)”. This is what we need to be looking at and the number of broken pages should be displayed next to it.
If you click on “Client Error (4xx)” you should then get some different information in the top left panel. This should now show all the different broken pages on your website.
Where Are Broken Pages Linked From?
You now have an idea of the different broken pages on your website, but where are they being linked from? Luckily Screaming Frog gives this information too.If you click on one of the broken pages in the top left panel, further information will then be shown in the bottom left panel. This will show general information but what we need to know are the “Inlinks” and there’s a separate tab on the bottom panel for this. Once you navigate to that tab you should now see all the places in which the broken page is being linked to.
The next step is to then find these on your website. This can be done by simply navigating to the webpage that is linking to the broken page and looking for it, but before you do that there’s clues to look for in Screaming Frog too. And it’s simply how many different pages are linking to the broken page.
If there’s a high amount of inlinks it’s likely that the broken links are going to be somewhere within the website’s template. These may be harder to update if you don’t have any development experience, however it’s likely that you only need to update this in one place and all the links will be changed across all pages.
If there’s just a few inlinks it’s more likely that they’ll be within the pages content. This should mean that you should be able to update them in your websites CMS (Content Management System, such as WordPress), but you’ll have to find and update each link individually.
What To Do With Broken Links?
There are 2 main options for what you can do with broken links: update them or remove them. This is quite a simple decision to make and the real question is: does your website have content that this link should be pointing to? If the answer to this is yes, then you should update the link to point to that page, if not then you should just remove the link.
You should now have an idea of how to find and handle broken links/pages on your website. Once you’ve run through them it’s best to rerun Screaming Frog to make sure that there are no longer any broken pages and repeat the process if needed.
If you are having any issues fixing broken links or any other technical SEO issues you can find out more about our SEO services and get touch via our SEO page.