What are dead links?
Dead links (in English broken links) are links to pages on your website that do not exist. They pose a problem because a large part of the SEO value of the links is lost, because your potential customers are directed to pages that do not exist, and because they signal to Google that your website is not maintained.
You can identify dead links to your website by entering the website in Ahrefs and click on 'Broken' in the menu on the left. Export the list of dead links via the 'Export' button at the top right, open the file and sort the list by the 'Link URL' column, i.e. by the non-existent pages on your website.
You can revive the links to each of the non-existent pages in two ways:
- Set up 301 redirects (i.e. forward users) to existing pages.
- Contact the people linking to you and ask them to fix the links.
The latter method is time-consuming, and our recommendation is therefore to set up 301 redirects. Typically this is done via htaccess or via your CMS system, but the approach may vary and requires you to consult with your technical managers. Read more about redirects.
If a page is only temporarily non-existent, you can either set up a 307 redirect or do nothing about the dead link. A 307 redirect tells Google that the page has moved temporarily and will be available at the original URL at a later date.
When you revive dead links, you regain their SEO value. It is thus a very simple and effective linkbuilding strategy - provided you have some dead links. The process of reviving dead links should be repeated periodically as new dead links appear.
Advice for redirect of dead links
- Handle each side. Set up a 301 redirect for each non-existent page. Multiple dead links may point to the same page, in which case you should only set up one redirect.
- Think in terms of relevance. Redirect users to a relevant sub-page that is similar or thematically related to the non-existent page. Avoid redirecting users to the front page unless it is most natural.
- Use correct syntax. Type the correct version of your URLs (with HTTPS or HTTP and with or without 'www'). This way you avoid chains of redirects, where you first send users to one version of the website and then to another version using another redirect.
- Test linkene. Test that all 301 redirects work as they should.