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How to say “no” to broken links

Broken links can harm your brand. Learn strategies for removing them from your site – and for stopping them from cropping up in the first place.

A picture of Jordan Torpy

Jordan TorpyMay 25, 2022

Your website is often one of the most critical touchpoints between brand and customer. A good web experience can boost brand reputation, while a poor experience can erode customer trust. 

Delivering a good web experience takes a combination of many factors, including site speed, an intuitive user interface, and good accessibility. And perhaps above all, it requires a site behaving the way a visitor expects it to behave. 

Broken links can lead to frustrating site behavior for your customers, leading to reduced trust in your brand. But with the right approach, it’s possible to significantly reduce the number of broken links on a site – and to prevent more from showing up in the future. Kontent.ai has specific features that help improve link integrity across your site, improving the customer experience and boosting customer trust.

What’s so bad about broken links?

First, let’s clear up what we mean by a broken link. Here, we’re referring to a URL that points to something that doesn’t actually exist. When someone clicks on a broken link, it leads them to an error page (typically the dreaded–and occasionally entertaining–404 page). 

Broken links are harmful in a few ways: they can hurt search engine optimization (SEO), have a negative impact on revenue, and can decrease user trust in your brand. 

Broken links hurt a page’s SEO from multiple angles. When a user is looking for some information and clicks a link to find it, but that link ends up leading to a 404 page, they’re more likely to end their session. Multiply this behavior over a large number of users, and you’re looking at a higher bounce rate and a lower amount of time spent on that page. Both of these metrics are signals that show how relevant your site is to a searcher’s intent, so when they’re hurt, so is your SEO. And if your site shows a lot of broken links when it’s crawled, that makes it look like your content is outdated and poorly maintained – also not great for SEO.

Poor SEO can have a direct impact on revenue by decreasing the size of the audience that can find your site organically. To get the same traffic, you have to rely on ads. And while ads can be quite effective, they don’t come for free.

Finally, broken links can harm your brand’s reputation, due to their negative impact on customer trust. Clicking a link and being shown a 404 page throws a site visitor out of a seamless web experience, and can lead to them questioning the reliability of the brand running the site. 

Brands should strive, as much as possible, to avoid having broken links on their site. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to achieve that.

Strategies for improving link integrity

When it comes to dealing with broken links, there are two problems that need to be solved: fixing the broken links that currently exist, and stopping more broken links from making their way onto your site. 

There are many tools for finding broken links on a website. A broken link check might be performed as part of an overall site audit, or it might be part of a one-off check. Google Search Console can even provide a report that can help with broken links, as long as those URLs have been indexed by Google. 

For links that are broken due to the content that they point to no longer existing, an occasional broken link check is very helpful. But some broken links are due to human error: a URL was mistyped, or linked to a resource that isn’t publicly available. In these cases, it’s better to avoid publishing the link in the first place.

One way to do this is to set up approval workflows, so that all content is checked by the right set of eyes before being published. An established publishing process, while not flawless, can significantly reduce the number of broken links that make it to production.

Proper workflows and review processes can minimize broken links.

Another option is to take advantage of the content modeling capabilities of a modular content platform to limit what content authors can publish as links. If broken links are being published because authors are linking to internal resources, or content that doesn’t have an external URL, then proper content modeling can avoid this by only allowing links to be made to externally available content.

Kontent.ai has several features that help stop broken links from being published in the first place. By taking advantage of them, you can avoid some of the issues that broken links can cause for your business and your customers.

Avoiding broken links with Kontent.ai

Kontent.ai has been designed to support organizations with complex content operations. To do so, Kontent.ai comes with powerful workflow and approval capabilities. Organizations can set up as many approval steps as they need to ensure that all content is reviewed and approved by the right people before it gets published. 

Content creators and editors are only human. Occasionally, when editing a piece of content as part of the review process, a small change to a link can lead to a broken link in production. But recognizing what exactly changed can be difficult to pinpoint. To make the job of spotting the difference a bit easier, Kontent.ai shows all changes that occurred to a link when comparing versions of a piece of content. This makes it much simpler to spot the difference between two versions of a link, leading to faster corrections of any errors in a URL.

Easily track changes to URLs in Kontent.ai

This feature helps with correcting broken links that were already published. But Kontent.ai can also help prevent broken links from happening in the first place, with the help of content modeling. With content modeling, it’s possible to limit which content types can be used in a link. Setting these limits can ensure that only published, publicly accessible content items are used in links. 

Limiting content types in Kontent
Limiting the content types that are allowed as links reduces the possibility of broken links.

In this way, content modeling supports editors and authors by acting as a guardrail. It prevents simple user error from creating broken links in a production site, avoiding all the pitfalls that broken links can cause.

More to explore

Broken links are an issue that require constant vigilance. Most content on the internet doesn’t last forever: domains expire, content gets taken down, and content gets moved. But by using the capabilities of a modular content platform, along with regular content audits, it’s possible to minimize the harm broken links can do to your business.

Looking to read more about how to optimize your site? If you’re interested in SEO, take a look at our free SEO ebook. If you’re more interested in content modeling, check out the free Global Enterprise Guide to Improving Content Governance. Want to see how Kontent.ai can support your business? We’d love to talk – schedule a demo and we will get in touch.

A picture of Jordan Torpy
Written by

Jordan Torpy

I’m a Product Marketing Manager at Kontent.ai. I help teams get the most out of their content operations.

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