December 24


What are broken links in SEO

By Jason Khoo

December 24, 2020


Hi guys. And welcome to another edition of Zupo's SEO Talk & Tea. 

Today's conversation, what are broken links in SEO? This is a conversation I'd like to have because broken links are often discussed when it comes to link building strategies or just general SEO and broken links to me is a very generalized term that I thought used to mean all these different things, but in the SEO realm, it means the one specific thing. So let me go ahead and talk about that today. But before we begin, I want to introduce the tea we have today because this is Zupo's SEO Talk & Tea. Today we have a Roasted Oolong. It's a very frequent guest on this show. It's a very smoky Oolong that was gifted to my family when my father visited China years ago to go reconnect with our family aligning and everything. But let's go ahead and get brewing and get chatting.

So what are broken links in SEO? Broken links, let me start with what it is, and then we can talk about what it isn't. So what a broken link is, in SEO means that you have a link pointing into your website from a third party domain or website. So let's say another website is pointing to a link to your website. What the destination of that link is a 404 page or pointing to a page that doesn't exist. So let me slow down and give an example. Let's say you own a website called and you used to have a page called, but now you don't sell spaghetti anymore. So, that page has been taken down. You don't sell spaghetti anymore, but back in the day, you used to have reviewers who reviewed your food. And it actually links to, right? Because they would talked about it in their review. That's what a broken link is. If you remove, that link now points to a page that does not exist, right?

And so why this is important is because a broken link means that now a third-party website is pointing a valuable link to your website, but it points to nothing. And the reason why that this can become a big implication is that acquiring links is one of the most difficult things in SEO. It is difficult to acquire high value links, right? And so in acquiring a link that goes to a 404, you essentially will lose all value, because Google does not like when users are navigated or directed to pages that don't exist. It ruined the user experience for people. And so in that case, if that link was pointing to Stockholm/spaghetti, you would get no value from that link because it's pointing to a page that doesn't exist.

Even though it points to your domain, that's great, but because of 404 page, you essentially lose all value of that link. So a broken link does not mean like a non-functioning link on your website. A broken link, I think, is so generalized that I think like when people hear broken link, they hear like, "Oh, the contact us link on my website, doesn't work, it's not pointing anywhere." That might be a valid way to use that term, but in an SEO purpose, it specifically means a link pointing to your website that points to a 404 page. Now that's what a broken link is in SEO. Let's quickly talk about how to fix it. If you have pages, if you have links coming to your website that point to 404 or nonexistent pages, there are two fixes. The first, easiest one, that I would recommend it right off the jump, is redirect, redirect that URL.

So in this case, the .com/spaghetti to a different URL, just do a 301 redirect and that tells Google, even though, if users and links link to this page, we have moved this URL to a different URL. So please pass the value and the importance to the different page. That way Google understands, Okay. You've just moved URLs. So if someone lands here, we'll just move them to the other URL. In the best case scenario, move that URL, or redirect it to a similar corresponding one, or at the very least to your homepage. I don't always recommend to the homepage because the homepage is one of the pages that easiest gets the most links. You sometimes you want to drive links to other pages that could use some more of that link value. That's number one, just redirect, you really want to redirect the 404 page to corresponding URL, or at least the homepage.

Second, go and reach out to the person who is linking to you, ask them to update the link. This one is much more difficult because I don't think anybody ... First, it's hard to outreach to someone, so I can get ahold of them and third getting their attention, and then having them actually go in and update the link. A lot of people are really busy. They don't really want to go in there and figure that all out. Especially if the website is owned by different people, or that's run by different people. It's hard because you might get the contact with an answer contact or web department that gets a little messy. In its purest form, though, if you can get that, get it, get that link updated to a new URL.

But in most cases it can be very difficult. So in the short term, just 301 redirect. That way you don't lose the value of a link, it's therefore is not broken anymore. And it passes value to pages and gives actual value to your website. So, that's what a broken link is in SEO. And so when you hear about broken link building in SEO, it really means like about like cleaning up your link profile so that you don't have links pointing to non-existent pages on your website. Hopefully that clarifies and that helps explain what broken links are. If you guys found the video valuable, please like, and subscribe. And I hope to see you guys again soon.

Thanks everybody.

Jason Khoo

About the author

Jason is founder and CEO of Zupo, which is an Orange County based SEO consulting agency helping construct powerful long term SEO strategies for our clients. Jason also enjoys multiple cups of tea a day, hiding away on weekends catching up on reading and rewatching The Simpsons for the 20th time.

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