How to fix broken external JavaScript and CSS files

You must ensure that any externally hosted JavaScript or CSS files used on your website functions properly. If not, your site’s rankings could be negatively affected if any of your scripts have stopped responding since they prevent search engines from rendering and indexing your pages correctly. The user experience of your website will also be negatively impacted if broken JavaScript or CSS files lead to problems. 

But don’t worry. We’ll explain why these problems need to be fixed, what triggers this issue, and how to fix broken external JavaScript and CSS files.

What causes broken external JavaScript and CSS files?

If your website code contains broken external CSS or JS files, the search engine or browser crawler will receive an HTTP status code of either 4xx or 5xx. A typical illustration of this would be the 404 status code or the Not Found error, which indicates that the file in question has either been removed or relocated to a new location. It could also mean the link that leads to the file has not been modified or updated.

But you may also encounter 403 or the “Forbidden file” error. If you’re experiencing this issue, the crawler cannot access the CSS and JS files. During the web crawling, the server has most certainly stopped the crawler or requests from it.

As the examples point out, broken external JavaScript and CSS files could be the result of a number of things. Most likely there is an issue of the files or links being modified or the file being moved. 

Why fixing broken external JavaScript and CSS files is important

There are two very good reasons you’ll want to address broken external JavaScript and CSS files. If a search engine can’t process the CSS and JS files, it won’t index the site or the bots will index it incorrectly. The first possibility is terrible for your SEO, and the latter can result in a compromised user experience that hurts conversions.  

Broken external JavaScript and CSS files have the potential to make things worse for the user and harder for search engines. Both of those scenarios are bad for your website.

How do I fix broken external JavaScript and CSS files?

The first thing you can do to check for broken external JavaScript and CSS files is run an audit using a tool like evisio. After generating the audit report, check the linked JavaScript and CSS columns for any JS and CSS files that don’t work properly. Those files need to be swapped out with ones that always respond with a successful 200 HTTP status. 

Instead of trying to fix the faulty JavaScript files, you can also choose to get rid of them if you’re not utilizing them.

Fixing JavaScript and CSS file 404 errors

If you have a 404 error, try restoring the JS file and then changing the link to go to the new URL by modifying the page. Make sure to verify that it’s directed to the correct folder or file, otherwise, you’ll just be starting over.

Fixing JavaScript and CSS file 403 errors

Crawlers being blocked by a firewall or server are a common cause of 403 errors. This type of error can also occur if your JavaScript files are hosted on a server that isn’t your own. To fix the problem, start running a new crawl after whitelisting the required IP addresses.

Final word on fixing broken external JavaScript and CSS files

You’ll want to fix broken external JavaScript and CSS files for the same reasons it’s important to fix internal ones. If it’s an external server issue you may not have complete control over the process. Fixing other types of external JS and CSS file issues doesn’t require as much effort, but they are equally important to correct.

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