Have you had an experience where clicking on a link in a web page sends you to a page that shows a “page not found” error message? That’s called having “broken links” on your website: a web page that has a link on it to a place that doesn’t exist. This is also referred to as a “404 error”.
The Cause of Broken Links
Broken links happen all the time for various reasons. In fact, it’s quite common you may have broken links if people leave comments on your website and the links in their comments don’t work anymore.
- The URL of the link gets changed or removed.
- The website changed its domain name.
- Someone left a comment, and listed a domain name that is not there anymore.
- There was a typo in the link URL (ex. not including “http://” before “www”).
- …and more
Why You Want to Fix Broken Links
Whether a broken link on your site was caused by the owner of the link destination or by you, you want to catch that so that you can fix it by updating/removing it. Your site visitors obviously will not appreciate being redirected to a non-existing page while on your website. Some people even suspect these bad links might not be seen favorably by Google, affecting the search engine ranking. Furthermore, too many broken links, also called “404 errors” could trigger certain website security tools to raise a red flag as a sign of hacking.
How to Find Broken Links on Your Website
So how do you know whether or not you have broken links on your website? Or how do you know when somebody changes the URL of a webpage that you linked to?
While there are several ways to find broken links on a website, here are a few plugins that make this job much easier for WordPress sites! Check them out and see which works best for you!
This is probably the most popular broken link detector that’s been around for quite a while. You can set it up so that you’ll get notified whenever it detects a broken link. You can also strikethrough a broken link on public posts/pages, warning the website visitors that the link is not working.
WordPress Broken Link Manager continuously monitors for links from other websites to your website that are broken. You can either direct all your broken links to a certain default page or individually redirect them to any page.
Broken Link Checker lets you scan your website for broken links and missing images very easily. It also lets you filter the results with different criteria. Comes with URL Tools that help mass-update links.
How to Fix Broken Links on Your Website
Once you have identified the broken links, some will be websites, some will be links within your site, and some may be missing images. You can step through the list of broken links you have and either update them, delete them, or in the case of missing images, replace them with new ones or delete them as well. You will be surprised when you find your own typos in link names you never saw before.
Remember that you should provide the best user experience for your website visitors. Use these handy free plugins to keep your website clean, and keep your website links up-to-date!