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How To Find and Fix Broken Links

How to Find and Fix Broken Links

What are Broken Links?

Broken  or 'dead' links are links that don't go anywhere, whether outbound (to another website) or internal (within your blog). Maybe the page has since been moved, deleted or made private, or perhaps the problem is human error and a mistake was made when typing in the web address to form the link. Either way, instead of taking people were you intended that link to go, your readers typically end up on a 404 error page.

Babi a Fi 404 Error Page

Why Should I Bother?

Because hitting a dead link as a reader is frustrating! You want to keep your audience sweet, after all. If the link is heading to another of your posts, one of your social media accounts, etc, it will also mean that you're missing out on potential traffic and interaction. When people hit a 404 they're often likely to simply give up rather than search manually.

Some say that broken links on your site also impacts negatively on your SEO (search engine optimisation) and, though that remains speculation, it certainly has the potential to make you look less professional and your site less worth sharing.

How Can I Fix Them?

Going through and scouring each and every blog post for broken links would be an absolute nightmare, especially as your blog starts growing! Luckily there are plenty of online tools that automates the process for you.

If you're on Wordpress you might want to check out the Broken Link Checker Plugin. If you're not, try Broken Link Check which is a free and easy method that simply involves you inputting your web address and hitting search.

First time around, choose the 'report distinct broken links only' as this will enable you to check site-wide links in your header, footer, and sidebar in a timely fashion. It will take a few minutes for the link checker to do its work and then you will have a list of broken links, complete with a note as to what the problem with it is, from 'bad url' which suggests a typo or formatting error to '404' denoting that the page can't be located by the server.

Broken Link Checker

In the 'page where found' column, you can click URL to be taken to the page with the error or SRC to see the source code containing the bad link - especially useful if the page has lots of links on it.

That done, just edit the page to correct the link, update it, change it to something equally as relevant, or remove it completely. Once you've finished with the list, run the check again, this time choosing the 'report all occurrences of each dead link' option to ensure you've caught them all. If the list is long it can be a tedious task, so you might want to set a certain number to do each day or week until they're done.

After that, try to make a point of checking your links regularly so problems don't build up.

Finally, if you want a tool that goes into more detail, try the W3C Link Checker. It produces a full report, explaining the problems with each bad link one by one, and what you should do to fix it.

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