Today I have a bit of a technical post for you! Not technical in the sense that you need any technical skills though - queue sighs of relief. I’m going to break down how to fix your broken links & 404 errors without needing any technical skills at all. YAAY.
Before I begin, this post is only for Weebly Users. My website is hosted & built through Weebly so I will base the post off this platform. Having said that, the first half of this post will be relevant if you use Wordpress, Squarespace, Wix or any other platform so let’s dive in.
What Are Broken Links & 404 Errors?
Very simply this is any link that a user might follow on your website which takes them to a 404 error page instead of the page they were looking for.
This will happen anytime you update or optimise a url. For example, say this post about getting a hobby was live on your website: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/hobby-can-boost-motivation-change-life/
It’s doing really well and you are getting traffic and shares. But, you do some keyword research and notice that the URL could be optimised to improve its ranking position.
So, you update the url to: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/boost-motivation-with-hobby/
What you’ve done is created a new url, and the old url now goes to a 404 page (unless you have an automatic redirect set up, some wordpress sites do).
Anywhere on your website where you have linked to the old url, and anyone else who linked to your old url, all of those links go to a 404.
(This is the 404 page which you would get on a weebly website if you follow a broken link.)
To check your 404 error page type your url into your browser and add some random letters at the end of it.
For example: http://tinybuddha.com/kkkddd
Top Tip: You can also optimise your 404’s like Tiny Buddha have done here. By simply placing links through to important or popular content you will decrease the number of users who leave your website from a 404 page. There are tons of ways you can optimise the page, we don’t have time to go into it now but I may cover this in a future post.
Why Are Broken Links & 404 Errors Important To Fix?
There are a few reasons why fixing your broken links is important. Firstly user experience. It is very annoying, especially if your visitor is on a mobile to click through to content & find a 404.
Short attention spans mean you don’t have a margin for error with your visitors. Most will just leave your site and may never come back. That’s a lot of wasted energy which has gone into getting that visitor to your site only to have them leave again.
Another reason is for SEO purposes. Say your post had been referenced by several other websites, perhaps it has been shared hundreds, maybe even thousands of times. If you don’t fix your broken links then all of this equity stays with the old url and you’ve lost valuable positive signals pointing to your website.
How To Identify Broken Links & 404 Errors On My Site?
Identifying broken links is SUPER EASY thanks to Google and their tool Google Webmaster Tools. If you haven’t signed up already then get your profile. It’s very easy to install and there is a tutorial here for you to follow.
It might take Google a week or so to crawl your website and populate the data. But once it is populated navigate to the section; Crawl Errors
This will let you know where your broken links are! Perfect.
How To Fix Broken Links & 404 Errors In Weebly
Once you have identified your broken links navigate to your Weebly Website Dashboard. Select “Edit Site”.
And now hit “Settings” In The Top Navigation
Click The SEO Tab and scroll down to the redirect section. Here you can enter your old url and select the new page you want visitors to go to.
Top Tip: For deleted pages if there is a closely related page send users there. If there is no closely related page send users to your homepage.
I hope this post has inspired you to fix your broken links! It might not be the sexiest thing in the world but improving your visitors experience is. So, check in every few months and make sure you aren’t frustrating your readers and losing valuable SEO juice in the process.
I’d love to hear in the comments if you have ever fixed your broken links before, is this something new to you or something you do regularly?
Written by Cheryl Clarke Chief Happiness Officer & Director Of Ginger Marketing