If you are using Terminalfour (T4), there is a good chance you are developing or maintaining content for a page or set of pages for the university’s site. The goal is typically to keep your readers on your site for as long as possible; maybe you have a conversion goal, such as having your visitors make a deposit, to enroll into an event, or apply to a program. While creating your content, hyperlinks guide your visitors to additional references and information to supplement their reading – but what happens when these links break? Some of even the biggest sites have broken links – the average number of broken links on any given site is 2.4% – but given their negative implications, we want to try to minimize them as much as possible.
What is a broken link?
A broken link is hyperlink that, when clicked, brings the visitor to an empty or non-existent webpage, resulting in a 404 error message. Here at UMass Dartmouth, we use a form of internal linking called section links to help prevent broken links between pages with the UMass Dartmouth site. We have less control over links to external sites that are owned by other individuals or organizations.
What’s the problem with broken links?
There are several issues with how broken links can affect your site, some more serious than others.
- Broken links can affect your site’s SEO – or Search Engine Optimization. SEO is how well a site performs in a search engine result. Search engines like Google will rank your site poorly if you have many broken links, along with many other factors. In other words, people can’t find you!
- Reduces your site’s credibility and can look unprofessional
- They can impact conversions – if the user can’t access the link, they can’t complete your goal.
- People are less trusting of sites seem like they have been abandoned
- It’s just plain annoying to click a link that goes nowhere!
Why do broken links happen?
- the source URL was entered into the content management system (CMS) incorrectly
- the source URL was changed or moved
- the source page or picture was deleted
- the content is now protected and can’t be accessed
**Although not technically a “broken” link, domain name changes are still a common occurrence, and as a result, external links should be checked frequently. Domain names are often sold and the link that you once thought was going to one place could now link to completely different content.
What can I do?
- Use section links whenever linking to internal pages within UMass Dartmouth’s site
- properly link to the media library using the Insert from media icon for PDFS
- properly insert images using the blue “Select media” button
- only link to external sources when they are credible or absolutely necessary
- check for broken links – either manually, if you have a small site with a few links, or using the Broken Link checker in T4
- Navigate to the Main Menu in T4 on the left hand side
- Go to Measure > Quality Control> Broken Links
- Search for the site/page(s) you’d like to check for broken links