How to Find & Fix Broken Links in Google Search Console

How to Find & Fix Broken Links in Google Search Console
Broken links or “404 errors” are more than just minor inconveniences. If not addressed promptly, these could harm your website's SEO performance, disrupt the user experience and potentially decrease your site’s ranking in Google search results.

By mastering the method of detecting and fixing these broken links, you're not only enhancing your website's user experience but also optimizing its SEO performance. 

Understanding how to find broken links in Google Search Console can help your site to stand out and climb the ranks in the crowded digital marketplace.

What are Broken Links?

Broken links, also known as dead links, lead to pages that no longer exist. When you click on a hyperlink and get directed to a “404 error page”, you've encountered a broken link. 

The “404 error” message tells you that the requested page cannot be found on the server, which is internet-speak for 'this page does not exist.'

There are a few reasons why you might be seeing this error. Maybe the page was deleted, the page URL was changed without a redirect being added, or perhaps the website itself no longer exists. Also, it could be that the link pointing to the page was entered incorrectly.

Believe it or not, even a simple typo in the URL could render a link broken. For example, a missing hyphen, an extra space, or a misspelled word in the URL could lead to a 'page not found' error. This seemingly small glitch can radically harm your website's user experience and SEO rating.

💡You may want to read: 13 Common HTTP Status Codes + Explanations

404 error message

Why are Broken Links Dangerous for SEO?

Broken links compromise the user experience, leading to frustration and trust issues, making visitors less likely to return to your site. 

When Google's web crawlers discover too many broken links, they might perceive your site as neglected or outdated, which can negatively affect your website's SEO ranking.

Dead hyperlinks dilute your site's overall authority. Every link on your website disperses link equity, and when a link points to a non-existent page, this potential SEO boost is wasted, lowering your website's ranking factor on the SERPs.

So, it’s crucial to minimize the number of dead links on your website to provide a better user experience while maintaining Google's trust and a higher SERP ranking.

What are the Different Types of Broken Links?

Let’s take a closer look at the different types of broken links you might encounter during your digital cleanup:

🔗 Internal Broken Links: An internal broken link is a link on your website that points to another page on the same website but, alas, hits a wall. This could be due to renaming or relocating a webpage without updating its internal links, or even due to a simple typo. 

Internal broken links are particularly harmful because they interfere with the user experience on your website and negatively impact search engine tracking.

🔗 External Broken Links: These are links pointing from your website to another website, which unfortunately end up on a page that doesn’t exist. An external link could be broken as a result of various external factors beyond your control such as an expired domain, an updated URL, or a moved or deleted webpage on another site. 

Although external broken links have less impact on your site's SEO, it's still essential to periodically check and rectify them to ensure a smooth user experience.

🔗 Broken Backlinks: Backlinks are the links from other websites that point towards your website. They are one of the important signals that search engines use to gauge a site’s quality and relevance. They can turn broken due to reasons such as the webpage to which they point getting moved, renamed, or removed. 

A broken backlink leads to a '404 error' page, driving away potential traffic, affecting user experience, and you are at risk of losing valuable link juice.

💡 You may want to read: How to Find Spammy Backlinks & How to Get Rid of Them

broken link

What are the Common Causes of Link Breakage?

No website can absolutely avoid broken links; they happen to the best of us. Yet, having a deep understanding of the potential sources of broken links can aid you in your SEO strategy because awareness of the problem is the first step in preventing it.

Here the common causes of broken links:

⚠️ Linking to a Webpage that is Deleted: Like a book missing a page, a website might be missing a webpage, leading to an error when the link to that page is clicked. Also if you link to a third-party webpage, you risk linking to pages that may get deleted, moved, or whose domain has expired.

For instance, if you've included links to sales or event pages, remember that this content is temporary and once the event or sale is over, the page will be taken down.

⚠️ Renaming or Moving a Webpage without Updating the Internal Links: Often, a business might rename or move its webpage during a revamp but forget to update the internal links. Users who click the old link will arrive at a '404 error' page.

⚠️ Incorrect URLs Entered by the Site Owner: This could be due to spelling errors or typos in the URL. Such errors are easy to make and can lead to a broken link when unnoticed.

What Can You Do to Prevent Broken Links?

Prevention, as you might've heard, is better than cure. This holds true in the world of SEO and website maintenance as well:

✅ Maintain Url Consistency: Try to maintain a consistent structure for your URLs. This can not only help prevent broken links due to typos or incorrect links but also make your URLs more SEO-friendly.

✅ Double Check Before You Publish: When adding new links to your site, double-check the URLs to ensure they are correct. Make sure you’re not rushing through this step to avoid unwanted broken links later. 

✅ Be Cautious with Content Removal: Be careful when deleting pages or content from your website. If you're planning on removing any content, make sure you've added 301 redirects to point to the new location or similar content. A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect that guides visitors (and search engines) to a different URL than the one they originally requested.

How to Find 404 Errors in Google Search Console

Google Search Console is led by its powerful crawler, Googlebot. It's excellent at spotting broken links in its mission to provide comprehensive and valuable site reports. 

But how does it do that? Let's break it down with a step-by-step guide:

Step 1. Launch Google Search Console: Open the tool and select your desired property (website) from the dashboard.

Step 2. Head to the Coverage section: On the left-hand side menu, click on 'Coverage'. This feature presents the errors, warnings, and exclusions Google spotted while crawling your website. Look for Error.

Search Console

Step 3. Examine in Details:  The Error section will list any loaded pages with crawler errors. Here lies your valuable information on broken links. Particularly, '404 errors' refer to broken links. The URLs listed have been considered by Googlebot as non-existent, which you need to fix.

coverage report

Other Methods for Finding Broken Links

Having understood how to utilize Google Search Console to find broken links, let’s explore other ways to to spot those notorious broken links hiding in your site:

Utilizing SEOmator

Similar to public infrastructure, your website requires routine audits and maintenance to ensure any broken links are promptly identified and fixed.

Numerous dedicated online SEO tools or browser extensions offer several options, including SEOmator’s Free SEO Audit Tool. This tool performs a comprehensive analysis of the website's structure, content, technical issues, backlinks, and performance. 

SEOmator's audit report

Following a regular audit schedule can help you maintain a high standard of user experience and keep your website's internal linking structure tidy and efficient. It's a commitment to excellence and consistency one should adopt while traversing the captivating world of SEO.

Performing Manual Checks

If you don’t want to lean on tools, you can always check manually. Manual checks work especially well for smaller websites or for double-checking critical areas of larger ones.

To conduct a manual check, start with one webpage at a time. Consider initiating with webpages higher in your site's hierarchy, like your homepage, product pages, or major category pages. 

Simply click on each link on the page to see if it's broken. Take note of 404 error pages and fix them, using redirects or updating the link.

Encouraging User Feedback

Encourage your website visitors to report any broken links they stumble across. This simple yet powerful process can often lead to quick discoveries of broken links that you might miss. Plus, it also engages your users, making them feel valued and part of your community.

Providing incentives for users to report the errors they encounter could help increase participation. The incentive doesn't have to be monetary; sometimes something as simple as a shout-out or badge on their profile can make users feel valued.

How to Resolve Broken Links

404 error symbolizing with a chain and a man

After successfully identifying those broken links, it's time to fix them:

🎯 Changing and Removing Internal Links: There can be a simple solution to resolve those internal broken links. You can either change the linking (update the hyperlink to the new URL of the page) or remove the hyperlink if the page it was pointing to no longer exists.

🎯 Creating 301 Redirects: This comes into play when, after redesigning or updating your site, you end up with a different site hierarchy. This method essentially informs search engines of the location change and maintains the link equity you've garnered over time.

🎯 Changing and Removing External Links: As for those notorious external broken links, updating the hyperlink or removing the link if the original page no longer exists can be an effective way to fix them. 

🎯 Regular Monitoring: Consider link maintenance as an ongoing task. Regular monitoring and handling of broken links help maintain your website's SEO hygiene and health. 

💡 You may want to read: 301 Redirect or URL Canonicalization


Broken links, like most digital issues, tend to creep up when least expected. Whether it's a typo, an updated URL, or a deleted page, an unattended broken link can spell trouble for your website's health and user experience.

Well-maintained internal and external links not only enhance user experience but also help in creating a clear website structure that search engines love. Therefore, understand the significance of crafting a well-linked website and strive for it relentlessly.

Using tools like Google Search Console can ensure you stay on top of any emerging issues. 

Similar to how you keep an eye on your site's traffic and conversion rates, make monitoring for broken links part of your routine checks. Regular monitoring matched with diligent action can lead to a significant SEO improvement over time.

By incorporating these strategies into your regular tasks, your website should stay in tip-top shape, offering an excellent user experience and maintaining a healthy SEO ranking!

💡 Related Articles:

- How to Add a User to Google Search Console

- What is a Wildcard Redirect? - How Does It Work

- How to Fix 'Crawled-Currently Not Indexed' Issue in GSC