Broken links are the bane of user experience.
There’s nothing worse than finding a 404 error page. And people who tart 404s up with quaint local dialect or jokes to apologise should just stop.
If you remove a page or change a url and leave the old link lingering elsewhere, you’re breaking trust.
You’re damaging the confidence people have that your website is up-to-date. You’re frustrating them with the promise of information you’ve snatched away.
Search engines won’t like you either. You are breaking their trust in sending people to your website.
Identifying broken links
You might say it’s unavoidable to have broken links. It’s not, it just requires care. If you’re killing a page, document or changing a url remember where you’ve placed links and change or remove them. This could be on your website, social media or even in print.
If you can’t remember where website links were, use these services to find them:
- Siteimprove (read our blog post about Siteimprove and how to get access)
- W3C Link validation tool
- Dead Link Checker
- Dr Link Check
Make search engines work for you
What happens if search engines have indexed the page/document you removed?
They make it difficult enough to get up the search rankings without causing this kind of headache.
If you can’t redirect people elsewhere, it’s time to make Google and co work for you.
Do a search for the page/document you’ve just deleted and if you find it in their listings – report it.
Google (if you have an account) will remove dead links from search listings on request. Make them work for you.
A Link is a Promise, Kara Pernice, NNg