What's a broken link?
A broken link (sometimes called a "dead link") is what happens when you have a link or button on your site that doesn't actually perform its intended action.
Typically you come across one as a link on a site that then takes you to an error page.
Top causes for broken links are:
- A typo in the URL of the link destination
- The link destination has moved or shut down. (404, or worse - "host not found")
Why you should care
The most obvious reason would be that broken links make websites seem poorly maintained and unprofessional. This is particularly important if your website is selling a product or service - who wants to give their credit card information to a shoddy website? It just doesn't inspire trust. Would you use a bank that has a window broken and graffiti on the wall?
Another big reason you should worry about broken links is SEO. Google (and other search engines) punish websites which have broken links, because they want to prioritize serving their users with sites that give them the best experience. This means that your website will tumble down the rankings and you'll get fewer visitors if you accidentally let too many of these bugs creep in.
What's a 404?
"404" is the special error code that a server sends to the web browser when it can't find the website that was requested. It's a very common error to see - typically associated with the title "Page Not Found".