Broken links exist in almost all websites, which is unavoidable. Broken links are those links that cannot direct visitors to a file or a page. Generally, they are referred to as dead link or link rot. With time going by, the broken links that link to your posts will be more likely to occur.
Reasons to Broken Links
Here are several major reasons that cause broken links as following:
- The webmaster changed post slugs of pages;
- Restructured website leads to pages having a new URL;
- The webmaster removed a page;
- The website does not exist anymore;
- The website is transferred to the new domain but the webmaster does not create a redirect;
- Because of firewalls, hacking or hosting arrears, the website is offline.
These reasons to broken links are almost about the mistakes made by webmasters, but sometimes, it lies with visitors, not webmasters only. Sometimes visitors may forget to add http:// in front of a link. If a visitor make this mistake, his or her browser assumes that the visitor is trying to link to a location which is relative to the current location.
Why Should You Fix Broken Links on Your Site?
To fix the broken links on your site can bring many benefits and help your online business. First and foremost, the pages on your website without broken links will provide your visitors with smooth online experience. If you do not fix the broken links on your site, your visitors will have this experience: they are reading a wonderful post and try to discover the links in your post; however, these links are all broken. Can you image how bad your visitors feel? So, do it and bring more visitors for your website now!
The second benefit of fixing broken links on your site is SEO improvement. According to SEO experts, to fix broken links, missing pictures, as well as 404 errors can improve your search engine ranking. Although Google claims that 404 errors won’t impact the website’s ranking, broken links and 404 errors indeed can hurt it. However, if your website contains 404 errors and broken links, ignoring the impact on website’s ranking, you should fix them because it impacts your interests.
Free Software to Scan Broken Links on Your Site
After you learning the reasons and benefits to fix broken link, now we are happy to recommend you some free, easy-to-use software application to check your website for broken links. Once these software find out broken links, they will show you the broken links in your articles and the linked pages on your page are not valid anymore. Let’s take a closer look at how those software applications find out broken links on your site.
Google Webmaster Tools
It is free and easy-to-use to check broken links and 404 errors. If it finds out the broken links, you can find the information on the following Crawl Errors page, which is in the Crawl section.
This page can clearly show your URL errors and site errors for feature phones, smartphones, and desktops. Now the page separately shows that the URL errors include server errors, soft 404 errors, not found, and others.
When you click on the errors, the detailed information of broken links will be presented, like the broken link’s full RUL. Google will provide detailed information of all broken links in order to assist you handle these issues. Besides, “Linked from” can let you know exactly where the broken links are.
W3C Link Checker
W3C is also World Wide Web Consortium, which provides a free link checker that can check broken links and other more. It is a good link checker that many webmasters are willing to recommend.
UW3C link checker is not as simple as Google Webmaster Tools. Therefore, if you choose it to check broken links and fix the errors at one time, it will be more complex. However, there is no doubt that it is thorough and a good tool to list all broken links that founded on your site.
Broken Link Checker
Broken Link Checker is an excellent link checker that we are willing to recommend for you, which is available to WordPress customers. This plugin will scan the whole database and presents broken links detected. To help users easily understand its result pages, the plugin will highlight http status, link text, and the source of the broken links. With the information, you can quickly know where the broken links are.
Besides, you are able to choose broken links and mark them as not broken or unlink the link. You can even select to rescan. What’s more, Broken Link Checker can check your database regularly and email you when it finds broken links. It even applies formatting to broken links for are visibility.
In addition, the checker allows you to select what links is checked. Even the video links can be scanned for YouTube, Google Video, Vimeo, Megavideo video, and DailyMotion, and then notify you whether the video is removed.
Other Link Checkers You May Need
Besides the tools above, there are some other free link checkers we recommend, which are Xenu’s Link Sleuth, Link Valet and Link Checker. Xenu’s Link Sleuth checks links, stylesheets, images and scripts. After checking your website, it will display detailed information including URL, page title, page size, last update time, incoming links and outgoing links. Moreover, it can find out the redirected URLs as well.
Link Valet is a free, primary link checker that will highlight the checked links’ HTTP response codes. If you need check the whole website, Link Valet can help you by take a little more time. Its color coding will help you a lot with spotting broken links.
Link Checker, a free website validator script, is available under GPL for Linux, Windows, and Mac. After checking broken links on your site, it will report you in form of HTML, text, SQL, XML or CSV.
Fix Your WordPress Broken Links
No matter which software you apply to check the broken links, once the list of broken links on your own site is created, you should proceed to fix them. Here we recommend you some methods to do this in below:
Correct Broken Links
When your links to a website is incorrect, you can just edit the URL and then use the correct value to replace the broken links. As we introduced before, one of the major reasons that links become broken is because the webmaster forget to add http:// in front of the links.
Sometimes, you need to do more investigation for correcting broken links. For example, the pages you linked to are moved to the new location; the website you linked to changes a domain name. Know more information about your broken link, then you are more likely to find the right way to correct them.
Replace Useless Referenced Websites for Fixing Broken Links
If the resource you referenced does not exist or has on longer updates for years, you need to replace the useless resource you linked to with other valuable resource. This method not only fixes the broken links on your pages, but also makes your article keep useful to audience.
Unlink Broken Links
When should you take this action? If you find that the pages that you linked to are dead or are not relevant anymore, you should want to remove these broken links from your article. At that time, you should unlink these broken or useless links. Along with this method, you need remember to remove the content referring to that disappeared or useless page.
Broken links are common to see in any website, but they are related to user experience and traffic on you website. Therefore, it is vital to address this problem. One of the most practical methods to handle this question is to a redirect from your old URL to the new URL. It will ensure that the traffic is really transferred to your new URL. Making full use of broken link checkers we recommend in this article, find and fix your WordPress links as soon as possible.