Broken links

> Check for broken links

Updated: April 4th 2016

404 File not found I hate that

"Ensure that all links go to live web pages."

- from the Google webmaster guidelines 1

What are broken links?

  • Links that do not work are called broken links.
  • Typically they point to a page that no longer exists resulting in an error.
link pointing to an error page

Broken links are frustrating for users.

No one enjoys clicking on a link that seems to be exactly what they are looking for only to find that no web page is there.

From a business standpoint, if your links are broken your customers do not find what they are looking for they might not want to return to your site.

If a link on your webpage says "click here to purchase" then that link should lead to your shopping cart or procedure. If that link is broken, no one can buy that item.

Why links get broken

The two most common reasons are...

  • Not checking links thoroughly when creating and publishing a page.
  • A webpage that was linked which previously existed has now moved.

Not checking links

It should be standard to check all the links on any webpage or blog post before you publish it.

Webpages that have moved

When linking to resources on other sites it is important to check these links more often than you would check links to resources on your own web page.

The older your webpage is, the more likely it is that there are broken links because as time goes by the web changes.


Proper website maintenance should include a check for broken links daily, weekly, or monthly depending on the size and complexity of your site.

Broken links are a sign of a poorly maintained website.

How to check for broken links

For small sites: It is just a matter of clicking your links occasionally.

For medium sites: The W3C broken link tool is a good place to start.

For large sites: You should have an internal tool built by your team that checks for broken links automatically.

Patrick Sexton by