Nobody likes to click on a link and get an error page. It’s frustrating, and as a website visitor you usually just give up.
Picture this, as a website owner, you want your customer to go to a great post about something amazing but, instead, your reader gets the dreaded 404 error page. Odds are, they gave up after that error and left your website. That’s not good for anyone.
Another problem with broken links is that search engines don’t like them. You need search engines to show your webpages to potential customers, and it’s more difficult for search engines if the internal link is broken.
In this post I’ll show you how to find broken links on your website and fix them.
How to Find Broken Links
It’s important to regularly check for broken links on your site.
To find broken links on your website you can:
- Manually check
- Use an external tool
- Use a WordPress Plugin
Let’s take a look at each option.
To find broken links on your website you could manually click on every link on your entire website. However, this could be very time consuming to do on a regular basis.
There is one time when you should actually do a quick manual check. That should be done before you post a new article or page.
Use an external tool
Instead of clicking on every link on your website, you can use a tool to find broken links for you.
The best way to check is using a tool like Link Checker by W3C. Enter your website address, and it will scan your webpage to find broken links. The results the tool finds will be displayed so you can take action to fix them.
Another tool to help find broken links is Google Webmaster Tools. Under the section “Crawl > Crawl Errors” you can see which pages had errors from Google trying to index your website.
Use a WordPress Plugin
One other option is to use a WordPress plugin. If your goal is to limit your plugins (and it should be!) then I recommend manually checking for broken links every month using the above two tools. But if you really must, you can try the Broken Link Checker plugin.
How to Fix Broken Links
Internal Broken Links
As an example: If you change a category name or your “About” page to “About-Us” you could have internal broken links, but it may not show up with the previous tools. This happens if other people use the old links to get to your website.
To easily fix this scenario, use the plugin Redirection to create a 301 Redirect rule from the old (broken) link to the new internal link. It’s best to do this right after you make the change in the category “slug” (the URL-friendly version of the name) for example.
The Redirection plugin is great for fixing internal broken links.
This plugin can also show you how many 404 errors your website has after it has been running long enough to collect the data.
External Broken Links
Another example is if you make a typo in a link to an external website. If this is the case using the previous tools like Link Checker by W3C would identify this and you will need to edit your post to correct the broken link.
Finding broken links on your website is all part of maintaining your website. It’s not the most exiting task in the world, but it’s something that needs to be done. Lucky for us there are tools available to help automate the job.
What methods do you use to find broken links on your site? Leave a comment and let me know.