What you definitely don’t want on your website… broken links!

by on October 20, 2014

broken linksThere are so many pieces to a website, from the big stuff like copy and graphics, to all the little bits and bobs that bring it all together.

One of the important pieces of the puzzle are, of course, links. You will no doubt have them throughout your site. Linking to other pages and important content. As calls to action asking visitors to buy or contact you. Sending people along to other online resources and profiles.

So, as such, they play an important role in user experience on a site. But haven’t we all experienced countless times the annoyance of a broken link? Whether your site was professionally designed or created by you. Whether it’s big or small. No matter, broken links can lurk – web pages move, content gets taken down and websites are changed. Keeping tabs on them is part of your general website housekeeping.

Well, duh

This might seem akin to something simple like adding a period at the end of a sentence or signing your name at the end of a letter. Duh, of course you need to have links that work on your site. But the reality is is that there are broken links everywhere on websites and they are often not small insignificant ones on pages or blogs posts that no one visits or on links to outside resources or pages that have moved. I’ve seen them with internal links going to other valuable website pages. I’ve seen them broken on the most crucial call to action of a site. I’ve seen broken links in the main navigation of a website (if I can’t find the page from there, how will I ever find it?). I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve clicked on broken social media links (where I was ready to like the Facebook page or follow on Twitter).

Why it matters

  • It’s a missed opportunity – if you want someone to go somewhere and they can’t so they don’t then you lose. (Remember, people are lazy. Even if they could easily find where the link was meant to go, they may not bother). When it’s your own content, you certainly don’t want people to miss it!
  • User experience – broken links are beyond frustrating for a user. And when a user is frustrated, it doesn’t really reflect well on you. They also may decide to ditch out on your site completely.
  • SEO – A broken link or two most likely isn’t going to cause you any problems, but sites fraught with broken links will be read as being full of errors – not great when you want search engines to give credibility to your site. Coming across a broken link can stop a search engine crawler from, well, crawling, and result in them moving on – think of a broken link like a dead end. You want to make your site friendly to these little searching spiders. Plus, if bad links = a bad user experience, search engines pick up on that too. They are looking for quality sites to direct people to.

How to fix it

The first and most obvious thing is the manual checks. It doesn’t matter if you worked with a web designer. You (or someone you know) should still go through and check every link. Especially the most important ones like social buttons and CTAs. This should be part of the checklist of every new site or redesign, addition or adjustment. If you never did this on your website, go ahead and carve out a bit of time to do it now or get your little cousin or your mom to do it for you or whomever. If you’re a small biz with a small website, this isn’t such a big job.

There are tools that can help you with this:

The good karma move

Notice a broken link on someone’s site? Take a karma break and let them know about it. This happened to me a while back when someone was so kind as to send me a tweet when he noticed the link to my Twitter profile broken (FYI, even links that once worked can stop doing their job – that’s the way of internet).

Broken links are an inevitable part of any site. The importing thing is mitigating their effect and making sure you aren’t inadvertently missing any opportunities. So go ahead and do a little link hunt!

Do you know of any other tools for checking on website links? Go ahead and let us know in the comments…

Image source: David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

James October 24, 2014 at 11:20 am

I use a Google Chrome extension called “Check My Links.” It quickly scans an entire page, and highlights any broken links in red.


Martina Iring October 27, 2014 at 9:53 am

Thanks for sharing that James! Will have to check it out. Cheers


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