A broken link might seem like a minuscule, little mistake on your website compared to the other things you need to deal with while managing a multi-billion dollar company website.

But let’s say Johnny comes to your website and lands on your home page. Johnny finds something interesting on your website and clicks a link to buy from you. A 404 error appears. Your branding experience takes a hit. Trust and respect for your company takes a downhill spiral.

75% of people base their perception of a brand on the company's digital presence

At first, this might not seem like a big deal to you, but let’s say Johnny leaves your website after landing on your 404 page. Take that lost dollar amount and times it by one each time someone clicks on that broken link. How does that make you feel?

88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a website after a bad experience

Broken links on your website are a bigger deal than most of us marketers take the time to pay attention to. What’s even more alarming is the amount of US Fortune 1000 companies that have broken links on their websites. Some of the most popular and well-respected companies in the world can’t even keep track of their broken links.

Now I’m not trying to be harsh. What I really want to do is share the data with you to inspire you to re-think your process for finding and fixing broken links on your website. I want to help you improve your website so you can have as many new leads and customers as possible coming to your site—and not your competitors’.

Download the broken link cheat sheet

To guide this conversation, I used Siteimprove to check the number of broken links on 135 US Fortune 1000 company websites. Here's what I found.

Table of Contents

Broken Links Report on 135 Fortune 1000 Company Websites

This data collected is from 135 publicly listed US Fortune 1000 companies. The companies range from retailers and software providers to financial intuitions and healthcare organizations.

Total Number of Broken Links on All Websites - After looking at over 63,492 total website pages on 135 websites, a total of 13,142 broken links were found.

Number of US Fortune 1000 Companies with a Broken Link - Out of the 135 websites, 131 of them were found with having at least one broken link. 117 had five or more broken links.

graph showing home many fortune companies that have a broken link

The Most Broken Links Found on One Website - After looking at all 135 websites, the most broken links found on one website was 707!

Number of Broken Links by Page Level - Page level is the hierarchy of your website. The higher the level, the more important the web page—especially when it comes to broken links.

Page Level 1 – The Number of Broken Links Found on Homepages - 42 websites were found with having at least one broken link on the homepage. Examples of broken links found on homepages:

  • A link listed to book hotel rooms
  • A drop-down link in the main navigation to investors page
  • Instagram icon link in the footer of the website
  • Icon link to scroll down home page banner

Page Level 2 – The Number of Broken Links Found on all Pages Linked to from the Homepage - 3,775 broken links were found on level 2 pages across all 135 websites. Examples of broken links found on level 2 pages:

  • PDF download link on the events page
  • Link to a page about commitment to sustainability
  • Sidebar navigation link for international contact information
  • A link listed on FAQ page to external NYSE stock ticker symbol
  • A link listed on a sitemap located in the website footer

Page Level 3 – The Number of Broken Links Found on All Pages Linked to from Level 2 Pages - 12,245 broken links were found on level 3 pages across all 135 websites. Examples of broken links found on level 3 pages:

  • A link listed on a 404 page back to the home page
  • An image link listed on supplier resources page
  • A link listed on board of directors page
  • Internal link on industry article

Note: You may have noticed the total amount of broken links across page levels 1, 2, 3 (16,062) are higher than the reported number of total broken links across all websites (13,142). This is because broken links can often occur on multiple pages, increasing the overall number reported on.

Common Causes of Broken Links

Broken links are those that bring you to a page saying “404 error”. The most common causes of broken links are self-inflicted and include:

  • Renaming or moving a webpage and forgetting to change internal links
  • Making a mistake when adding a link to your website (e.g., you accidentally add an extra, unwanted character to the URL)
  • Linking to content (PDFs, videos, etc.) that has been moved or deleted
  • Linking to an external page, and not knowing when that external source changes the URL or moves the page

5 Tips to Help Find and Fix Broken Links on Your Website

Like I promised before, I want to help you find those nasty, little-broken links. Here are a few tips, tools, and articles that are helpful for finding and fixing them.

1. Use Your Analytics Tool to Find Broken Links - WordStream does an excellent job outlining a process for how to find and fix broken links on your website. You start by using an analytics tool and searching for 404 pages in your content report. From there you can create a report in excel to track your changes. However, I find it much easier using automated tools, which leads us to the next tip.

2. Use Automated Link Checking Tools - There are many automated tools you can use for finding broken links on your website:

3. Optimize Your 404 Page - While this tip doesn’t necessarily help you find and fix broken links, it can be a temporary solution while you work to fix them. It can also help increase your conversions and boost revenue if done correctly. Look at these 11 brilliant 404 pages for inspiration.

4. Set Up 301 Redirects - You can set up 301 redirects to a new location or to another relevant page on your website to help you with broken backlinks. This is an easy fix and can be done in your CMS by a developer or your agency.

5. Reach Out to the Linking Website Owner - If you can identify a broken backlink to your website, sometimes it’s as simple as reaching out the website owner and politely asking them to fix the link. It’s worth a shot!

Download the broken link cheat sheet

3 Benefits of Fixing Broken Links on Your Website

I’m not just talking about broken links because we happen to have a tool that automatically finds them for you. I’m talking about them because it has real benefits for you and your website. I’ve outlined three, real benefits of taking the time to fix the broken links on your website.

1. Reclaim Valuable Link Juice and Increase SEO - A broken link on your website can stop search engine crawlers in their tracks. Since a broken link translates to spending less time on your site, search engine algorithms will assume it's because your website doesn’t provide visitors with quality content or information, ultimately resulting in a lower ranking. In return, you get less traffic and money generated from your website.

2. Improve User Experience - As mentioned before, 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to your website after a bad experience. By fixing broken links, starting with your highest valued website pages, your visitor’s user experience is immediately boosted.

3. More Revenue and Stronger Brand Credibility - There really is a true cost to broken links on your website. Broken links are roadblocks in the conversion process and result in lost revenue and damaged brand credibility. But, if you take the time to develop and follow a process to help you find and fix those little buggers, the results will show. Your brand will shine with satisfied customers and happy executives. 😊

Find and Fix Broken Links the Smart Way

Forget the old process (or lack thereof) of finding and fixing broken links. Move toward the smart way. Work with confidence, save time, and perfect your digital presence with Siteimprove.

Find and fix broken links the smart way: Request a Demo of Siteimprove

Sources:

http://credibility.stanford.edu/guidelines/index.html

https://ns-cdn.neustar.biz/creative_services/biz/neustar/www/resources/whitepapers/it-security/ponemon-report-2015.pdf

https://econsultancy.com/blog/10936-site-speed-case-studies-tips-and-tools-for-improving-your-conversion-rate