Analyzing Your Website’s Link Profile: How to Find and Fix Broken Links

Searching for how to find and fix broken links on your website?

External and internal links are among the most important ranking factors.

When you start optimizing your website for search engines, the first thing you’re recommended to do is building quality backlinks.

But before you start earning links, it’s essential to analyze the current state of your link profile and define what aspects affect its quality.

Are there any factors that affect it negatively?

How can you fix the problem(s)?

In this post, you’ll find the answers to these and other crucial questions so that you can be on your way to a clean link profile.

Why and how links matter

There are different types of links: inbound, outbound, internal – and all of them matter.

Let’s take a minute and to point out how each link type influences your site.

Inbound links

These links come to your site from some external sources. If Google crawlers see there are lots of trustworthy websites linking to your site, they consider your site to be highly relevant to the subject. So they start ranking it higher for the specific queries. And vice versa. In case you gain a number of spammy links, and Google crawlers notice it, you will witness your positions drop.

Outbound links

An outbound link leads from your site to another one. Although most SEO articles are built around earning inbound links, you should never underestimate the power of outbound links.

Mentioning other websites in your content, you create and expand a web. It helps Google identify the connections between related sites and pages.

Internal links

Internal links go from one page of your domain to another page within the same domain. Are they useful for your SEO? Ninja Outreach case study showed that internal linking campaign helped them increase organic traffic by 40%. So the short answer is ‘yes.’

Here are the main advantages of setting a clear internal linking structure:

  • It lets visitors better understand site navigation.
  • It allows establishing information hierarchy for the given website.
  • It speeds up the process of getting new pages indexed. Following a link from a known page, Google robots identify and crawl new pages.

How to run a diagnostic of your link profile

Some newbies make a common mistake thinking the number of links is an important ranking factor. However, it’s already proven that it’s link profile quality that actually affects Google rankings. That’s why it’s so crucial to check your domain’s overall link authority. But how can you measure it?

You should start with identifying the factors comprising your link profile. I’d circle out four crucial aspects:

  • the type of links that lead to your website;
  • the anchor text;
  • the authority and the ranking of the domain linking to your page;
  • the way you earned these links.

Now when you know the factors you should consider, it’s time to move to action. As it’s impossible to check all the links coming to your website manually, you’ll need some link intelligence tool. I’ll go with Serpstat. This all-in-one SEO tool provides a range of features for comprehensive website analysis.

To analyze your link profile, enter your URL into the tool’s search box, select your country, and click on Search. You’ll see Backlink Dashboard with an in-depth report on your domain’s backlinks.

backlink analysis

Again, the number of links isn’t the most important criteria, but you still should consider it. The ratio of referring domains to referring pages should be fairly even. Otherwise, Google will consider the fact there are 2,000 links from only two domains to be the red flag.

You should also pay attention to Serpstat Trust Rank – the score evaluates how trustworthy your domain or URL is based on the trustworthiness of the referring domains or URLs.

To get more precise information on your inbound backlinks (especially on new and lost ones), go to the Referring Pages section. Check your lost links to make sure you didn’t lose any of the quality ones, and the new links to ascertain there are no spammy sources linking to you. If you identified unnatural links to your website, ask the site owner to remove them or disavow those links.

Serpstat API is now available for backlink analysis, so you can get custom reports not logging into the tool’s interface.

What are broken links and why should you bother them?

Broken links are links that lead to empty or non-existent external pages. There are external and internal broken links. The first ones lead to the other websites, the second ones exist within your site.

There are several reasons why broken links are harmful to your website. First of all, they hurt user behavior metrics: users click through the link in your article and come to an empty page. They leave it and come back to the search results to find the necessary information. In the result, you witness the bounce rate growing and the dwell time decreasing.

Secondly, a large number of broken links affects your rankings negatively. If Google crawlers come across empty pages repeatedly, they’ll consider your content to be out-of-date. Moreover, each broken link wastes your crawl budget: instead of crawling new pages, search robots are visiting non-existent ones.

So, if you don’t want to witness your rankings and traffic drop, you should check and fix broken links regularly.

4 Ways to find broken links

There’s a large number of tools and desktop software created to help webmasters with their routine work. Due to this fact, you are free to choose the most convenient method to apply. Here are four ways of finding broken links I find the most useful.


1. Monitor crawl errors with Google Search Console

If you verified your site with Google Search Console, this method is the quickest one. You only need to go to the Crawl Errors report and scroll down to see the list of all the pages that return a 404 error.

website link analysis

Google Search Console is a free but not very reliable method: it shows only the links from its database. As search robots aren’t crawling your site constantly, you may fail to see some existing broken links.


2. Conduct a site audit with Serpstat

Serpstat Site Audit tool analyses the queried domain and creates in-depth reports on all the technical issues on the site. To identify broken links and other errors, start a new project for your domain. When the result is ready, scroll down to the HTTP Status Code section, and unroll the Server status code: 4xx report.

wesbsite link auditing tool

Here’s a list of all the pages that respond with 4xx codes. If you click on each URL, you’ll find the pages that contain the broken link.


3. Identify broken links with desktop software

Apart from web-based SEO tools, you can also use desktop software to find broken links on your website. The most popular options are Screaming Frog and Netpeak Spider. Both tools will provide you with a list of error 4xx links, the sources linking to these pages, and anchor texts of these broken links.

broken link checker software

4. Find external broken links with Ahrefs

While the above-mentioned methods help to identify the broken links within your site, with Ahrefs, you can analyze the links that lead to external sources. To find broken external links, go to Site Explorer, enter your domain, and click on Outgoing links > Broken links.

external backlink checker

How to fix broken links

Create a list of all the broken links you found and analyze their nature. The process of fixing the issue is pretty simple. You only need to select one of the following methods:

  • Some broken links may be caused by typos in the URLs. Check it and fix if there are any typing errors.
  • Set up redirects from the pages that no longer exist.
  • If there are no similar pages to link to, remove broken links.
  • If you want to fix external broken links, just replace them with links to other sources with similar content.


Final thoughts

Your link profile may either help you improve your rankings or cause the drop in your search positions. To prevent the negative impact of a spammy link profile, you should check and clean it regularly. Follow the tips from the article to cope with this task successfully.


About the author

Adelina KarpenkovaAdelina Karpenkova is a Brand Specialist at Serpstat, an all-in-one SEO platform. She loves providing actionable tips to help readers improve their marketing and SEO strategies. She thinks content marketing is the best mechanism to claim your expertise and build your brand. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.


What Are You Waiting For?