Links to your site are great (as long as they are natural), but one thing that you should always make time to check is whether you have any broken links or not. Broken links on a site can look unprofessional and can cause problems with search engines if you end up sending people to too many broken links.
In this post we will look at the causes of broken links and what you can do to fix them.
What Are Broken Links?
Broken links are simply links on your site that point to pages, websites, servers, etc. that don’t exist any more. The most common cause of a broken link is usually a 404 redirect, which means that the server that the website is hosted on is still working, but the URL that you are linking to has changed or been deleted.
Why It’s Important To Check Your Links?
Broken links (can also be referred to as ‘link rot‘) can apply to both external and internal links, which is why it is important to check them. You don’t really have an excuse for an internal broken link (at least long term anyway) as you should be regularly checking your active posts and pages on your site. In most cases, these tend to occur when you make changes or remove it without fixing the links that were pointing to it. Generally, these are really simple to fix.
External broken links on the other hand can be a lot trickier to spot. You may link to dozens on sites every week on your posts (which is good, external links for a site are recommended), but that doesn’t mean those posts will be around forever. Sites can get deleted, bought by another owner and renovated, posts moved, etc. It’s really easy when you think about it for all these links to change.
There was a study about the evolution of web pages that found that about 1 in every 200 links gets removed from the internet every week! That is a HUGE amount of links when you think about the many millions of websites that exist online.
Don’t let this put you off though. Just because you have no influence over your external links, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use any. It just means that you need to regularly check that your links are working. Any links that turn into broken links can be removed or changed to something else.
Broken Link Checker WordPress Plugin
The thought of having to regularly check every link on a site manually is enough to put you off running a site for good. Thankfully there are tools online that automate the whole process, letting you get on with the important job of running your site.
One of the best tools that I have found (and use) is the ‘Broken Link Checker’ WordPress plugin. This fantastic free plugin lets you;
- Monitor all your links on your site (posts, pages, comments, etc.)
- Detects links that don’t work, missing images and redirects.
- Notifies you either via the WordPress Dashboard or by email.
- Makes broken links display differently in posts (optional).
- Prevents search engines from following broken links (optional).
- You can search and filter links by URL, anchor text and so on.
- Links can be edited directly from the plugin’s page, without manually updating each post.
All these are fantastic features, but basically the fact that it will detect all of the broken links on your site and email you the results is why you should be using it. Once you know which links you need to fix or delete, it makes it much, MUCH easier.
Have you found broken links on your site? Do you use a different tool for checking for broken links? We want to hear from you, so please get in touch below and leave a comment.