July 09, 2024

Broken Backlinks: Google's Gary Illyes Explains When to Fix and When Not?

By Sona Mathews

What does Google think about Broken backlinks? When should I fix Broken Backlink errors? When should I least care about them?

Google's Gary Illyes has explained the broken links, what to do with them, and when to leave them.

Gary Illyes explained during the Google SEO Office Hours podcast in June 2024 when to fix broken links and the time webmasters or SEO should spend on these issues. During this 16:45-minute podcast, he explained a lot about SEO issues.

Broken Backlinks: Google's Gary Illyes Explains When to Fix and When Not?: eAskme
Broken Backlinks: Google's Gary Illyes Explains When to Fix and When Not?: eAskme

Google SEO Office Hours podcast June 2024 and Broken Links:

Gary Illyes explained that you should only fix broken links when they are helpful for your audience. It is only possible to fix some broken links if you have a massive website.

For example, if you are running a news website with 10,000 articles, then it won't be easy to fix every link. The best strategy is to restore links that are valuable for your website and users.

Gary Illyes's about Broken Backlinks:

Gary Illyes's broken backlink advice busted many myths that SEO had over the years. The most common myth is to fix every broken backlink. Yet, some webmasters have asked if they should fix every broken backlink or not. News sites or sites with thousands of pages spend a lot of time and resources on fixing links. New advice explains that a 100% broken backlink fix is not necessary.

The best SEO practice is only to fix backlinks that matter to your business.

For example, fix backlinks coming from top-ranking or high-quality websites. Save time on fixing backlinks from low-quality sites.

Find the usefulness of a broken backlink before fixing it.

This strategy is like fixing 404 links. John Muller advised that not every 404 links should be fixed.

Why You Should Fix Broken Backlinks?

Finding broken backlinks is easier than obtaining new backlinks. There is no exact metric to measure the impact of broken backlinks, but wrongly fixing them can surely hurt the website's ranking and user experience.

When to Track Broken Backlinks?

Keep track of new backlinks monthly, if not weekly. Make sure that your link-building campaign does not gain broken backlinks. If there is a wrong backlink or dead backlink, then fix it as soon as possible.

Backlinks that are important:

Fix broken links that are displayed in your GSC broken links report.

What type of broken links you should fix:

  • Backlinks from high-quality sites.
  • Misspelled URLs
  • URL's that moved to a new page or post.

Backlinks that are less important:

  • Links from low-quality sites
  • Links to outdated pages.
  • Random links.
  • AI-generated links.
  • Links from Spammy websites.

How to Find Broken Backlinks?

Finding broken backlinks is quite easy.

  • Go to your Google Search Console and log in.
  • Check the "Broken Links" or "404 Page" report.
  • If you are not sure where the link is placed, then type the broken URL in Google Search Console's "URL Inspection tool." It will display the referring pages, and you will find the page where the broken link is published.

Use 301 redirects, the Wordfence plugin, or the Redirection WordPress plugin to fix broken backlinks.

How to Fix Broken Backlinks?

The easiest way to fix a broken backlink is to create a redirection to the working URL.

You can also contact the website owner through email outreach and ask him to fix the broken URL.

But email outreach to fix broken backlinks can cause the following situations:

  • Web admin may remove backlinks.Web admin may add a no-follow attribute.
  • Even if the web admin fixes the link, it will only fix on one page. Every website that links to the same wrong URL will need more outreach emails.

The best strategy here is to use 301 redirects.


Gary Illyes suggests fixing broken backlinks only when they add value to your website. It is easy to fix broken backlinks with redirections rather than sending emails for link reclamation.

Only send emails to fix backlinks when you have established a strong relationship with the webmasters.

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