You click on the desired link in the search results and don”t get to the page with the desired info, but to the screen with the sad inscription “404 Not Found”, “Page not found” and stuff like that. We know that feeling. Broken links are not just irritating, but also damaging to the website's reputation. Finally, they can bury your SEO, particularly if these are internal links. This is a regular issue when migrating a site to a new domain.
Today let’s talk about finding and eliminating broken links in WordPress. But first, let's go over some theory.
Broken links theory in a nutshell
Broken links (or "dead links") are hyperlinks that lead nowhere. That is, to a non-existent site, web page, picture, soundtrack, or document. Usually, they are accompanied by an error popup, most often 404.
Such references can be compared to a house on the map, which is indicated but doesn’t exist on this territory in reality.
Broken links can actually be dangerous for the site and the brand as a whole. First of all, they make users mad. The visitor follows the link searching for the necessary information, and as a result receives a message that there is no such page. This is how users lose trust, most often close the site and don’t return.
In some ways, it’s great if the 404 page is designed according to all the rules and the user is offered options for further interaction with the site. So there is at least a small chance not to miss the visitor at all. But very often there are resources with a blank or template 404 page. When faced with it, the user will surely click on the cross.
Moreover, the site with a large number of broken links is also negatively viewed by the giant Google, considering it simply of poor quality and unworthy of good optimization. And so that your site doesn’t undermine the trust of users and search engines, we recommend that you carefully monitor their appearance.
Why do dead links exist?
- The site, web page, or file has been deleted. Let’s say you have an article with a review of an app in your blog. If over time it is deleted, the link will still remain in the text. The reader will follow it and get to the page that doesn’t exist.
- The structure of the site has changed, and page addresses have been replaced. For example, your directory was previously called “products”, but now you decide to rename it to “catalog”.
- There was a typo in the address when adding the link. For example, your webmaster accidentally deleted or inserted an unnecessary letter at the end of the address.
4 techniques for finding dead links on your website
- Google Search Console
- Third-party services
Not the most efficient way and not suitable for everyone. If you own a resource with 20-30 pages, this method is quite good. You can separately open each one and study all the links on it, checking them for operability. But even manually, you can miss something.
There are powerful plugins for WordPress sites. These tools check everything connected to broken links, and non-existent images and notify via the admin panel, the page of the plugin itself, or by email. You can not only quickly find broken links, but also delete and correct them through the plugin.
The search algorithm through the Google Search Console is simple. Go to the tool, in the left menu we find the “Crawl” item, here pages are divided into categories, including those with broken URLs.
To be honest, this is the easiest method, favored by SEO specialists. With a top-notch broken link checker, you can simply enter the site address, and the service will provide full site analytics, including the total number of links, broken and blacklisted links, their text, status, and even the pages on which they are located.
Final stage: fix a broken linkIf the link has become broken due to an error or a typo in the address, then you just need to specify the correct URL. If the page to which the hyperlink refers has ceased to exist, it is worth removing the link or fixing it to the relevant one.
When changing the URL structure, you should set up a permanent paging redirect using a 301 redirect in the .htaccess file.
Of course, there are more options for finding broken links, but we have tried to list some of the most effective, understandable, and, most importantly, free. Don’t forget to track and fix broken links on your site in time so as not to anger readers and not harm promotion.