What to do when you have broken links on your blog

broken links

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Early last week, by chance, I found that one of my post contained a broken link. When I see in my stats that someone has clicked on a link, I click on it (out of habit, I’m not sure why I do) and that’s when I saw the page that no one wants to see, you know, the one that says ‘This page does not exist’…yeah, that one.

Broken links are a pain in the butt, not only for the reader that is looking for a product, review, information etc., but also for you, the blog owner. Broken links can decrease the amount of readers that visit your blog and also lower your ranking on internet search engines (especially Google!).

I thought I would show you some ways to check how many broken links you have, how to fix them and what to do with them if the product, item of clothing, page etc. doesn’t exist anymore. I can guarantee that even if you have only been blogging for a few months, you will have a few broken links.

How to check for broken links on your blog

Using WordPress– There are many plugins for WordPress that will automatically search your whole blog (depending on the settings) for broken links. I have installed ‘Broken link checker’, apart from the obvious title, it has a fairly high rating and is simple to use. More on that later. Simply search for ‘broken link checker’ on the plugins page.

Using any other blog platform– I can’t recommend any plugins or applications for other types of blog platforms because I have only ever used WordPress, but I can recommend a site that will check for broken links. Broken Link Check shows you how many broken or ‘dead’ links you have and exactly where they are on your blog, so that you can fix or remove them. All you need to do is enter your blog url into field provided and click ‘find broken links’.

How the broken link checker plugin works

The WordPress plugin is preset to check your blog for broken links every 72 hours, but of course you can change it to any time frame you want. It will run even when you are not signed in. If (like me) you have been blogging for over 12 months, it will take a while to complete the first full check (mine is still going).

Before you do anything, make sure you go into settings and uncheck the ‘send email’ box, unless you don’t mind receiving an email every 72 hours! In settings, you can also choose which parts of your blog that you want checked. It will check your blogroll, so you know when a blogger has changed urls (they may have gotten a new domain) or if they have stopped blogging and shut it down. (disappointing, but it does happen)

Once the plugin has found the broken links, it will tell you how many there is at the bottom of your ‘dashboard’ page. Click on the number and it will take you to a table, showing what links are broken, what post they are on and their ‘status’.

What to do once you have found all the broken links

Under each url (link) in the table, it will give you an option of

  • Edit Url- Lets you change the url to a working one, eg. An online store still sells the item that you linked to in your post, but they have rearranged their site, so the url is now different
  • Unlink- Removes the link, but not the text it’s linked to. eg. Your post was seasonal, so the item/product featured is no longer available. You could use this and then add ‘no longer available’ next to where you had the link.
  • Not Broken- Sometimes a site’s server may be down or busy, so the plugin picks the link up as broken. Click on this once the link is working again and it will disappear from the table.
  • Dismiss- Kind of like ignoring it really, the broken link will still be there, but it will be ‘hidden’ from ‘Broken Link Checker’ so it won’t be picked up again as a broken link, unless it’s status changes.

On the right hand side of the table it will give you the option to view the post that the link is on and edit it that way. This is helpful if your url is linked to a phrase like ‘Find more information here’ (here being the word that is linked)

With the first check there may be a lot of broken links, this will take a while to fix unless you just ‘unlink’ or ‘dismiss’ them all. I suggest taking a couple of days to fix them.

Once all your broken links are gone or fixed or removed, you may see an increase in page views (and increasing your overall SEO), as broken urls or links will lower your Google rank.

I hope this post has helped in removing broken links