How to Find Broken Links with Google Search Console

Jonathan Pellerin

  | Published on  

March 5, 2024

Broken links are what SEO nightmares are made of.

A webpage that doesn’t work - is there anything worse? This is not only bad for users, but also for marketers since it will lower site rankings and hurt SEO performance. But fear not! Google Search Console has the remedy that will help you to identify and fix your broken links.

Understanding how to identify broken links will help improve SEO performance and stay ahead of the competition. 

What is Google Search Console, And How Can it Help With Broken Links?

Google Search Console is an essential tool used by SEO professionals to monitor website performance and for taking a look at how websites are performing in Google Search results. One of the perks of using Google Search Console is that it can identify broken links so that you can make changes to fix your website. Google Search Console has a helpful tool called the 'coverage report’, which breaks down any issues with a website’s URL, including broken links.

How do Broken Links Affect My Website's SEO Performance?

Broken links can cause an avalanche of problems ranging from loss of revenue, increased bounce rate, low site ranking, and crawling/indexing problems. When a user is progressing along the conversion process, a broken link can cause them to not fully convert, which can negatively affect sales revenue. Time is of the essence when it comes to fixing broken links since the bounce rate may increase because users won’t want to wait. 

Customers won’t be likely to buy anything or do any desired tasks if webpages aren’t working because of broken links or 404 errors. When customers are bouncing from your site more, your site ranking is also likely to decrease because customers aren’t happy, pages aren’t loading, and Google isn’t able to crawl/index the site properly. 

What Are The Steps to Identify Broken Links Using Google Search Console?

Finding broken links in Google Search Console is a quick and easy process. To identify broken links, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to Google Search Console
  2. Click on the desired property
  3. Click on ‘Coverage’ on the left sidebar to access coverage report
  4. Scroll down to the ‘Details’ section to view errors: This section lists any errors that have come up during the crawling/indexing process.  
  5. Look for any ‘404’ errors which would indicate a broken link

How Often Should I Check for Broken Links on my Website?

The best way to combat broken links is to prevent them from occurring at all with regular checkups. Ideally, it’s best to check your website for broken links at least once a month. However, checking once a week would ensure that customers are satisfied and get the most value out of the website. 

What Are Some Common Causes of Broken Links on a Website?

Even when performing regular checkups for broken links, what should you be looking out for? Here are some symptoms to look out for that can cause broken links:

  • Incorrectly Formatted URL: Something as minor as a misspelled word or adding an extra character in the URL can cause a webpage to return a 400 error, making the page unusable
  • Destination Page No Longer Exists: Broken links can be caused by websites that were taken down or that are no longer functional. 
  • Broken Images: Broken images exist when an image link leads to a file/image that no longer exists. 
  • Domain Changes: Whenever a website changes its domain, links for the old domain will not work and return a 500 error indicating that the servers can’t be found.

What Should I Do with Broken External Links on my Website?

When you identify broken links on your website, you should work to either update or remove them to get your SEO back on track. 

For example, if there’s something minor like a spelling error, you can easily go back and update the link with correct spelling to fix the error. Also, you can simply remove any links that no longer serve a purpose, such as dead links, broken images, or pages that no longer exist. It’s best to remove any fluff from your website so that everything runs smoothly and no users get any reason to bounce or not fully convert. 

A 301 redirect can be used to lead traffic from broken web pages to operational and relevant pages. A 301 redirect essentially tells Google that the original link has moved to a new location and directs users to the new URL.

How Can I Prevent Broken Links From Occurring in the Future?

Here are some good advice to follow to protect your website from getting broken links going forward:

  • Perform Regular Checkups for Broken Links: Making a habit out of checking for broken links can help you spot irregularities before they turn into problems.
  • Redirect to New URLs as Needed: If a URL becomes outdated, try redirecting to a newer page so that Google automatically knows to ignore the old link and not cause an error
  • Avoid Domain/URL Changes: Making too many changes to your website URL can make broken links more likely. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Learn More About SEO With Our Comprehensive Google Search Console Guide

Understanding how Google Search Console can help with treating and preventing broken links is only a small part of what Google Search Console is capable of. To get the best results for your website, it’s imperative to get a comprehensive look at what Google Search Console can do for you. 

Not sure where to go from here? Click the button below to download our free Google Search Console guide

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