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How To: Check for broken links and fix them

What are broken links?


Simply defined, broken links are internal and external links originating from your site that lead to a dead end. That is, visitors see the 'Page not found' message. It is common for blogs to have broken links. You may have moved or deleted a post, or they may have been misplaced when you moved your blog or changed your domain name.

How To: Check for broken links and fix them


Why do I need to fix broken links?


The experts will tell you that broken links adversely affect your SEO or Google Page Rank. While this true in the long term, you have nothing to worry about if you regularly check your site for broken links and fix them. This is important not just for SEO, but also for user experience. You want your readers to see as little of that dreaded '404 Page Not Found' as possible. It's like cleaning the clutter in your house. Nobody's going to arrest you for a dirty house, but you'll have fewer visitors! So, think of this as spring cleaning dead links. I recommend doing it once a month, otherwise the pile up can be difficult to manage.

How can I find broken links?


Create an account on Google Webmaster Tools if you don't already have one. This service is very useful for site owners and offers many tools that can be quite handy. You will be asked to verify your site or blog once. After it's been verified, go to your Dashboard, click on Crawl on the left sidebar and then on Crawl Errors in the sub menu. Click on the Not found tab. This is a list of links that Google had a record of but couldn't find on your site anymore.

Webmaster Tools - Crawl Errors

Next, scroll down and take a look at the list of crawl errors. Now, here's where you have to play detective. Click on each link.

Webmaster Tools - Crawl Errors detail


You will get the window below, which will give you information on where that broken link was found. You can check that post or page and either correct the broken link or redirect it to the right place. You will have to do this using 301 redirect either through a plug-in or your blog dashboard. Once you have addressed the issue, click Mark as fixed. Don't worry if you can't find all of them. Some of them may be on your sidebar, while others may be in your source code. You can focus on the links that are most likely to affect your readers.

Webmaster Tools - Crawl Errors information

You are not entirely done! Webmaster Tools only shows the internal links on your blog that are broken. To see the external broken links that you have linked to on your blog, use an online tool like Broken Link Checker. It will quickly give you a list of links that are no longer working. Click on the URL where they have been found and remove them.

And that's all there is to it! Make sure you routinely rid your blog of broken links, and keep it clean.


This post has been linked to:

Blogging Tutorial 5725641434970785235

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20 comments

Katie Markey McLaughlin said...

I keep a running to-do list for my blog, and I just added this to it! Thanks for the useful information; I'll definitely be coming back to this for reference.

Sarah MumofThree World said...

Wow, that's something I've never doe before, but it sounds so simple! Thanks for sharing :)

Potty Mouthed Mum said...

What a fab tip! Thank you for sharing!

Mum Liya said...

It's been a while since I landed here.. These are fabulous tips. You've put it in a simple way!


#PoCoLo

fashion-mommy said...

Such a useful post - I do look at my google page, but never know how to correct the issues.


#PoCoLo


http://fashion-mommy.com

afra willmore said...

really useful - except I have 95 503 codes - server error? help!

Tarana said...

Happy you found it useful! Checking broken links is part of my routine now.

Tarana said...

Sarah, it's pretty easy to do!

Tarana said...

Do those links work now, Afra? Maybe your site was down at some point, and Google picked up the error.

alexes said...

Carol Graham has shared your post on Google Plus and as I respect what she shares, I thought I would come and read.

Ahh the problems with broken links has been the scourge of many a blogger and that's a fact! You are also correct that fixing these issues is important for your readers and as always the SEO.

I have used the broken link checker in the past and while I like it, I found that the one by Marketing Ninjas is even better. If you are interested and want to compare both tools, then here is that link
http://www.internetmarketingninjas.com/seo-tools/google-sitemap-generator/

I would also point out that another task that should be done is checking your images .. Important considerations are

finding out which images are broken;

knowing which images are missing alt text;

figuring out and Identifying images with huge sizes!

Funny enough ( and no I am not affiliated with them lol) marketing NInjas also has a tool to help with that

http://www.internetmarketingninjas.com/broken-links-tool/



The bottom line is that no matter what you use, be sure to use it on a regular basis.


A good and informative post :-)

Tarana said...

That looks like a great tool, thanks for sharing! Good point about the images too.

Victoria Welton said...

Brilliant post :) Really great tips. I am sure that I have a plug in on Wordpress that does all of this. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo :) x

Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault said...

Thank you for this - I have bookmarked to read in detail later.

alexes said...

you are very welcome Tarana.. its great when people can talk and come up with different ideas to think about and how to do.
Have a great day and weekend

Tarana said...

Glad you liked them, Vicky! I haven't used any plugins but I'm sure you'll find them.

Seychellesmama said...

I must do this, thank you for the advice!!

Alice Megan said...

Such a fab post will definitely be giving this a go

Let's Talk Mommy said...

This is absolutely fab thank you. I am doing both, cleaning it all out. So helpful. I would have never known any of this. You are always so informative and teach me so much. Thank you over and over. I had quite a few. Boo. But they are being fixed now. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

Tarana said...

Happy that you could use the tips, Jenny!

Mike said...

Oh this is great, Tarana, and thank you for the reminder! My webmaster have been doing a little tweaking, improving and cleaning up on the back end of my blog. And this will be soon up on the list of to-do's! :)

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