Recently, I spent several hours sifting through broken links and getting them fixed. A website broken link occurs when the target page of link is no longer available (e.g. due to being deleted or moved). There are a number of issues that you can run into if your website has broken links, these include reduction in search engine ratings, loss of potential customers, as well as loss of revenue. In this post we will provide you with ways to reduce and get rid of broken links.
Before we explore the method behind fixing broken links, let’s take a look at why broken links occur. The below list shows a few of the many reasons why your website might have broken links:
Reasons For Broken Links
Broken links can often occur when you make errors in hyperlinking text with incorrect URLs (e.g. due to spelling mistakes).
Removal Of Tags And Pages
When you remove a tag or page, other webpages linking to it can end up having broken links. therefore, you must first unlink all pages on your website which may contain an anchor to the tag or page that is to be deleted. For example, if you are about to remove a tag named “ABC” then you must make sure that all webpages containing the tag ABC should be unlinked.
Removal Of A Another Webpage or Website
Broken links are not just limited to internal webpages and therefore, you can even end up having broken links if a third-party website that you linked to has been removed. For example, we at WML Cloud often provide application reviews and sometimes the developer removes the product page or website. In such a case we find mirror links or alternative pages created by the developer to link to. In fact, recently most of my time was spent doing just that to make sure that my website does not have broken links and that visitors are not disappointed when looking for applications to download.
Impact Of Broken Links
- Loss Of Potential And Existing Customers
If you are using your website to sell a product, then broken links can result in loss of potential and existing customers as no one appreciates a webpage which leads nowhere.
- Loss Of Revenue And Damage To Reputation
Broken links can result in not only loss of potential and existing customers but it can also damage your reputation and result in loss of revenue. This is true for people using their website for selling products, as well as bloggers who rely on pay-per-click advertisement to generate revenue.
- Reduction In Search Engine Rankings
If your website has too many broken links, it can arguably lead to an impact on your search engine visibility and rankings.
How To Fix Broken Links
There are numerous methods by which you can fix broken links, including manual inspection, checking crawl errors in Google Webmaster Tools and by using third-party tools. One of the best methods of fixing broken links is to identify the pages and to manually inspect hyperlinks. While this can be quite time consuming however, it is worth the effort. The web service that I recently used for this purpose is known as BrokenLinkCheck. This web service provides a free check for broken links for 3000 pages. To use this service, follow the simple instructions given below.
Step 1: Go to the BrokenLinkCheck website, enter your website’s URL and click Find Broken Links.
Step 2: You will be asked to enter a Captcha code after which the link checking process will begin. As you can see from the image below, the BrokenLinkCheck tool is displaying details about the broken links, URL for the page containing the broken link, SRC and the server response. Simply click the URL option next to each broken link and search for the link mentioned on the left hand side of the table. For example, if a broken link for your website is being displayed as “http://yourwebsite.com/tag/abc”, then click the URL option and search for any links that may be pointing to: “http://yourwebsite.com/tag/abc”. This way, you can identify the page, look for the broken link and fix it. If you would like to stop the link checking process anytime, click on the Stop button.
I was surprised to see that some of the broken links were attributed to spammers who had left links as comments, which were no longer available. I use Akismet but even Akismet can sometimes miss spammers. In other words, it is also possible that some broken links might be attributed to spam links left as comments. The BrokenLinkCheck tool is quite accurate and can help you easily sort out broken links in no time. Alternatively, you can also use other resources such as Google Webmaster Tools, however, you might find it quite laborious to use alternative resources. If you know of a good Broken link checking tool or mechanism, feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.