What are broken links?

Broken links are links that simply don’t work. If you click a broken link, you’ll see a 404 Error page or a similar message explaining the webpage is not available.

Not only does it look poorly on your company for not maintaining your links, it can also cause problems with your email deliverability and SEO.

Reasons why a link might not work

Some of the reasons why links don’t work include:

  1. A website is no longer available
  2. A webpage was moved without a redirect being added
  3. The URL structure of a website was changed
  4. If web links in your campaign don’t begin with the http:// or https:// protocol, they may have broken after click tracking was added.

Why are broken links so important?

Broken links are usually accidents. We never intentionally send a customer to a dead-end site, so it’s important to triple-check your links before you hit Send to make sure your emails reach the inbox and your website maintains a healthy SEO.

Broken Links and Email Deliverability

When we’re talking about email marketing, ISP’s refer to the major email providers: AOL, Hotmail, Outlook, Yahoo, Gmail, Comcast, and so on. It’s their job to protect their customers from receiving unwanted or unsolicited emails. When you send out emails with broken links, the ISP’s flag your emails and potentially send them to spam or completely block them altogether.

Broken Links and SEO

Broken links can also end up affecting your site’s SEO. Search engines see links as a vote for a website’s quality. Too many broken links can be a signal of a low-quality website to search engines.

How to find broken links in your email

When you run a free email test on MailGenius.com, your results will show you if any of your links are broken and need to be modified before you start your campaign.

How to fix broken links after an email has been sent

If you’ve ever sent out an email blast only to find out that your customers can’t click the link in your call-to-action, you understand how frustrating and time consuming it is to have to reply and update everyone on the correct link to follow.

Here are 4 simple steps to follow to correct a link in an email that has already been sent:

1. Open the source code of your email.  This can be done with the Edit Source button at the bottom of your email or with the Source Editor selection from the drop-down menu at the top your email. (The method depends on whether your email was setup using templates or imported as HTML.)

2. Search for lid= in the HTML code next to the link you need to update.  Make note of the number after the equal sign. You’ll need this!

3. From the Get Started bar, select Tools & Content Components > Redirect Links. Then search for the number you found after lid= in the Start from Link ID (Optional) box. Select the magic carrot next to to the number and click Edit.

4. Now, just enter in the correct URL in the Redirect URL field and click Save Redirect Link.

What does the MailGenius email test tool cover with regards to broken links?

broken_html_links – Broken or Empty HTML links in the Body

Caveats, things to watch out for

Link decay, or link rot, refers to the time it takes a link to stop working. This usually happens when a website is abandoned or when interests change.

A study analyzing links cited in scientific papers found the average lifespan of sampled websites was 9.3 years.

Both websites and active links aren’t active forever, so regularly fixing broken links is a good practice.

Additional Resources

  1. What are Broken Links?- Raven Tools
  2. 4 Things You Might Not Know About Email Deliverability- Hive.co
  3. Troubleshoot Broken Links- Mailchimp
  4. How and why ISPs block emails- Campaign Monitor