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  • What are broken backlinks/broken pages?

    A broken backlink is a link from one website pointing to a page on a different website that responds with a 4xx or 5xx HTTP status code. In other words, a backlink pointing to a non-existent, moved, or removed page is considered broken.

    At the same time, a broken page is a URL that responds with a 4xx or 5xx HTTP status code and accordingly no longer works.

    While the number of broken backlinks may sometimes be intimidating, it does not always mean the exact same number of URLs on the target site that need to be fixed. In fact, just one broken page on a website can cause dozens of backlinks to collapse.

    For example, one page on your site receives 10 backlinks. At some point, you decide to move that page without configuring a redirect. In this case, the page becomes broken, and all 10 backlinks pointing at it become broken as well.

    To help you easily distinguish the count of broken backlinks from broken pages, we provide two separate fields in the Summary endpoint of Backlinks API.

    • broken_backlinks will indicate the number of broken backlinks pointing to the target
    • broken_pages will show the number of target’s pages responding with 4xx or 5xx status codes

    Note that we primarily discover broken pages on the target by following external links, however, this count may also include pages discovered by following the target’s sitemap.

    Either way, once you receive a value greater than 0 in the broken_backlinks field, we recommend finding the target URLs that receive broken backlinks.

    How to find URLs of broken pages that receive backlinks?

    Set a task to the Backlinks endpoint with the following filter: ["is_broken","=",true].

    You can also get only dofollow backlinks pointing to broken pages. Here’s an example request with the necessary rules:

    [
        {
            "target": "forbes.com",
            "mode": "as_is",
            "filters": [
                [
                    "dofollow",
                    "=",
                    true
                ],
                "and",
                [
                    "is_broken",
                    "=",
                    true
                ]
            ],
            "limit": 5,
            "order_by": [
                "rank,desc"
            ]
        }
    ]

    The response will provide you with broken pages that receive backlinks in the "url_to" fields. You can also see the reason why the page and the backlink are broken in the "url_to_status_code" field.

    If you want to find all broken pages on a website, you should use On-Page API. Check out this help article to learn more.