How often have you gone to a website, clicked a link and it is broken?
There various tools available to find broken links on your own website. Some are free, some are browser plugins and some are part of a paid software package.
What are Broken Links?
Broken links are hyperlinks in a web page that lead to a non existant page or website. If the website still exists, you will end up at a 404 error page. If the website does not have custom error pages, then you will see a web server error page. When the website does not exist any more, you will see a browser error page.
Why is it Important to Find Broken Links?
It is important to find broken links on your website to:
- Stop loosing visitors or sales because they cannot get to other pages on your website.
- Become a reliable resource for additional information on your product or subject.
- Get all your pages listed in the search engines.
How Do I Find Broken Links?
To find broken links on your website you need to use a link checker. There are various ones available, but we’ll explain the free W3C Link Checker.
To use the W3C Link Checker your website needs to be on a web server.
Once you enter the URL (web address) of your website, you have the choice to just check one page or a number of pages. To check a number of pages, put a check in the box in front of “Check linked documents recursively” and then enter the depth of the website to check.
It may take a while to see the complete results, but when finished there will be a list of links checked and which ones are broken. The W3C Link Checker shows you which page the broken link is on, make a note of it.
The list of broken links could be links to pages that do not exist anymore, websites that do not exist anymore or links you have coded incorrectly.
Fix Broken Links
Once you have a list of broken links, you need to fix these. How you fix the broken links will depend on how your website was built. A regular static web page can be fixed using a plain text editor or the HTML editor that was used to create the page. A dynamic website (one that uses a database) might be a little harder to fix, depending where the link is stored.
How Often Should I Find Broken Links?
As a regular website maintenance task, this should be done once a month. It doesn’t take long to do if you keep it up. You should also test a new page you have just added to the website for errors.
Taking the time to find broken links will improve your website visitor’s experience and improve your results in the search engines.
Further Reading on Find Broken Links
Google Webmaster Tools has added a feature where it shows you broken incoming links. You can use this information to correct your own mistakes and see incorrect links others are using to link to your website.
Using the information provided by the Google Webmaster Tools feature, instead of the visitors arriving to a 404 error page served up by your web server, you can use your custom error pages to avoid loosing the visitor or a 301 permanent redirect and get free links to your site.
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