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Guide to Using Broken Links

Modified on: Mon, 28 Nov, 2022

What is NicheIQ’s Broken Links tool?

Broken Links automatically detects website and page errors in the last 7 days giving you the ability to hone in on resolving active & current issues that impact your traffic and revenue. By having data about deadends that throw error pages on your site, you have the ability to correct those pages so that visitors no longer receive an error and can be taken to the content they were seeking, improving the user experience. Being able to track what type of error and how often an issue occurs gives you the leverage to make corrections and move on.

How do I get access to use Broken Links?

While on NicheIQ’s dashboard, click the “Site Health” menu and make sure it is Enabled. Once enabled, it can take up to 24 hours after enabling for data to start to appear.


What are broken links?

Broken links are pages that return an error status, formally called HTTP status codes. When you browse the internet, it works on a request-response basis. Your request for a web page sends a response back to your browser displaying that predefined HTTP: URL to view the webpage. Each web request results in a response with an associated status code represented by a three-digit code — the HTTP status code. The first digit defines the class of the status code. Ezoic will report on the following codes:

  • 1xx series - Informational (common example 100 Continue)
  • 2xx series - Successful (common example 200 OK)
  • 3xx series - Redirection (common example 301 Moved Permanently)
  • 4xx series - Client Errors (common example 404 Not Found)
  • 5xx series - Server Errors (common example 503 Service Unavailable)

How are broken links discovered?

Information is pulled from pageviews to find server errors and broken links that users attempt to see. This SEO audit and quick validation are all automatically performed by NicheIQ. The results detected are a sampling of high, medium, and low importance and are all current errors within the last 7 days.

Why should I care about broken links on my website?

You must be aware of any deadends that throw error pages on your site as it creates a frustrating user experience when a visitor receives an error instead of reaching the content they were seeking. Being able to track what type of error and how often an issue occurs gives you the leverage to make corrections and move on.

4xx-level errors

4xx errors received by the visitor when the page they’ve requested no longer exists on the site. This may occur when the publisher restructures their website.

Common causes for 4xx errors could be:
  • An unavailable page
  • Unauthorized user credentials
  • Invalid request parameters
  • Request method is not supported/allowed
Consequences for having 4xx-level errors can include:
  • Impact on organic traffic to the page
  • Page index is removed in search results (harder to re-index)
  • Lower ranking in search engines when multiple 4xx client errors are detected
  • Reduced trust in your site by visitors (it feels sloppy)

5xx-level errors

5xx-level errors come with more complexity, specificity, technicalities, and diversity. When a site serves a 5xx error, it means there was a server problem that prevented the page from loading. When the server fails to fulfill a request, the search engine will remove that page from the results it serves in an attempt to improve the user experience by avoiding showing results that lead to dead links.

Common causes for 5xx errors could be:
  • Coding errors in the application or configuration files
  • Unauthorized file permissions
  • Insufficient storage/memory
  • Server issues such as timeouts, maintenance, or overload
Consequences for having 5xx-level errors include:
  • Impacts a publisher’s traffic
  • Negative user experience
  • Lowers search engine ranking
  • Causes a Google deindexation

Note: 5xx consequences are reversible once the site is back online.

Uncovering technical SEO problems is a must-have resource you need to create a good user experience and how your site’s content ranks on search engines.

What information does Broken Links provide?

Broken Links provides an overview of the reported errors detected automatically. This quick glance data informs you with a count of exactly how many errors have been found, what kind of errors they are, and also tracks how often that request might continue to have errors and/or success.

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If you notice lost traffic to your site, it would behoove you to check up on these reported broken links and errors so that the issues can be corrected (unless it was a visitor error).

The dashboard will provide you with the following information:

  • In the upper left corner, displays totals grouped by status code type. The percentage associated with each status represents what percentage of URLs had 1 or more response of that type (2xx, 4xx, 5xx).
  • In the upper right corner, is an interactive line graph that gives publishers the ability to scroll to find date-specific counts.
  • Clicking the legend dots updates the graph to include/exclude the status codes to display. By default, all dots are included to show all status codes. Example: if you only want to see 4xx Client Errors, click the 2xx and 5xx dots to exclude them from showing on the graph.
  • In the bottom table, is a list of all the URLs that have returned a status. Each URL row has sortable data for successes, client errors, server errors, total errors, and success percentage. This data is based on the last 7 days to the current date.
    • The success percentage is the percentage difference between the type of response (1xx/2xx/3xx, 4xx, or 5xx). A 0% success means there are still errors (no successful responses).
  • The “View Details” link will open the selected URL’s data.
    • Date - records when in time that URL experienced the HTTP status
    • Scheme - either HTTP or HTTPS
    • HTTP statuses - the exact code error or success) from the last 7 days. Hover over the HTTP Status for a popup to show information on what that status means with clickable external resources to learn more.
    • Number of Requests - the count for how often that status occurred on that date for that URL. This count information is depicted in the bar graph for each status type by date. By default, all status codes are included. Click on the legend dots to exclude them from showing on the graph.
    • Click the Back button to be taken to the list of URLs. 
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  • Associated with each row, to the right of the View Details click the ellipsis for options to open the URL or copy the URL to your clipboard.

How do I use Broken Links to resolve detected errors?

Using the Broken Links tool, you can easily track errors and start looking at trends over time to figure out what specifically may be causing the broken links.

The process you should take with the data provided should be in this prioritized order:

  1. Find URLs with the largest reported count of errors ("Broken in Past Week")
  2. Check if the errors still occurred in the most recent past
  3. Investigate & Fix (see previous section). If an error no longer occurs, the error might have been transient or recently resolved

4xx-level errors signal that the page's content isn’t visible to search engines.

  • Check the spelling of the URL for any typos
  • Check the URL links to the respective page and wasn’t relocated to a new URL
  • Check the URL links to a page with content rather than a directory
  • Clear cookies - the browser might be trying to use an invalid or expired cookie
  • Clear cache - the browser might have cached a corrupt version of the web page
  • Refresh the page - worth a try to see if it was just a one-time issue
  • Browser Search to discover if that page has a new URL - this is a common mistake when visitors have bookmarked a page that has been changed
  • Check another website - the problem might be the computer or network equipment

5xx-level errors are most often resolved by retrying the request.

  • Try at a later time in the day as the website might be facing more traffic that it can’t handle
  • Check your hosting service


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