There are a variety of things that can cause broken links, but the end result is almost always the same, a bad user experience and a bad experience for search engines that are visit your site.
As the creator/maintainer of a website, you have two main goals:

  1. Bring users to your site
  2. Keep users on your site

Broken links prevent you from achieving both of these goals.

In regards to goal number one “Bring users to your site”, search engines are your best friend. Search engines visit your site, scan your content, and add you to the database under certain keywords/phrases. At their worst, broken links can prevent search engines from finding entire pages of content on your site. Even if the link is pointing to an external site, it has been said that several search engines may penalize a site’s search engine rank for having broken links.

In regards to goal number two “Keep users on your site”, the user experience is your number one concern. Users need to be able to access the content on your site quickly and consistently. Even if there is more than one way to access a given page on your site, if the user experiences an error page, they are far less likely to continue to use your site to find the information or product they are looking for. As the old saying goes, “You only have one chance to make a first impression”. Don’t let that first impression be an error page, timeout page, or “forbidden” message. There are often many other websites competing for your user base, keeping both your internal and external links in tip-top shape is a critical piece of maintaining a good user experience.

To scan your webpage free for broken links, visit our free link checker at DistinctQuality.com.