Broken redirects

Half of all internet users will encounter a 404 error page at some point in their life, whether it’s because they’ve clicked on a broken link, typed in the wrong URL, or they are simply trying to access a page that no longer exists. But that’s not what you want users to experience on your website, right? Here’s all you need to know about broken redirects and preventing them on your site.

What Are Broken Redirects

A broken redirect is a URL redirection that leads to an error page. There are many different error pages that can be displayed, but the most common is the 404 Not Found error page.

There are two types of broken redirects:

  1. External: They occur when an external URL on your website points to a page that has been redirected to a 404 Not Found page. To fix this issue, you should find the most relevant page on the external website and replace the URL. Alternatively, you can just remove the external URL from your page.
  2. Internal: These occur when a URL on your own site points to a non-existent page on your site. This can happen if you change your URL structure and forget to update your internal links or if you delete a page and forget to update your site’s menus, sidebar, or footer links.

These are some examples of broken link error codes:

  • 400 Bad Request
  • 401 Unauthorized
  • 403 Forbidden
  • 404 Not Found
  • 500 Internal Server Error
  • 502 Bad Gateway
  • 503 Service Unavailable

What Causes Broken Redirects

Broken redirects can occur for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is that the destination page has been deleted or moved. Another common reason is that the URL of the destination page has been changed. In some cases, a broken redirect can also be caused by a typo in the original URL.

SEO Risks Caused by Broken Redirects

Broken redirects can have a negative impact on a website’s SEO. When a search engine crawls a website, it follows all of the links on the site. If it encounters a broken redirect, it will stop crawling the site and will not index any of the pages that come after the broken redirect. This can cause the site to lose its ranking in the search results and spend the crawling budget.

In addition to negatively affecting SEO, broken redirects can also lead to a poor user experience. When a user clicks on a link that leads to a 404 error page, they likely won’t continue browsing the site. This can result in a high bounce rate, which is bad for both SEO and the user experience.

Identifying and Fixing Redirecting Links

The most effective way to fix redirecting links is to change them at the source, plain and simple. This is how you can identify redirecting link issues:

  • Run a crawl of your site. You can use a crawling tool like DeepCrawl, Screaming Frog, etc.
  • Check your analytics platform and check if HTTP status codes are being recorded, and examine any 30X instances.
  • Look at the log files and obtain a list of current server-side redirects. 

Once you have a list of internal redirects on your website, this is how to fix redirecting link issues:

  • Make a list of all the broken redirects on your website. 
  • Remove all the redirects that point to 404 Not Found pages. 
  • Replace the broken redirects with new redirects that will take the user to relevant and valid pages. These should be pages with the 2xx status code.

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