Why you need to find and fix broken links on your website

In this post I discuss why it’s important to frequently check for broken links on your website, and I’ll show you the best ways to find and fix them.

For many of us web developers and bloggers, user experience and SEO are important.

Having a well functioning site that provides users with an excellent user experience will help to keep visitors coming back time and time again. While having a website that is SEO friendly will help new visitors find you via search engines.

But there is something on your website that might be damaging to both your user’s experience and to SEO: broken links.

Broken links are simply links that are “broke”. They don’t link out to the correct place. This may be because of a typo error in the URL, or the because the URL no longer exists. A page might have been deleted from a website, or the entire website may have disappeared.

In this post, I’m going to explain why broken links can be damaging, and I’ll show you how to find and remove them. 

Why are broken links a problem?

They can have a negative impact on SEO

Search engines use crawlers that automatically browses websites in a systematic way and provide the search engines with up to date information data about these websites. These crawlers work through web pages looking for hyperlinks. But if the crawlers can’t navigate your website properly because of broken links, then they can not successfully index your web pages, and therefore this will impact on SEO.

They ruin a user’s experience

I’m sure you’ve experienced this yourself; you’ve clicked on a link on a website that has been broken and you’ve been left feeling frustrated as you can’t get to where you want to go. This can really ruin someone’s experience of using a website, and it may result in high bounce rates (i.e. people leaving your website after visiting just one page). Not to mention that fact that it might discourage visitors from returning in the future. And we certainly don’t want this to happen!

What are the major sources of broken links on a website?

From personal experience, there are two main sources of broken links.

The first is the comments section of posts and pages. Most people who leave comments will also leave a URL to their website or blog. Sometimes people will move to different domains, or just shut their website down completely, and this will result in broken links.

You’d be surprised how often people don’t renew domains! I’d say that 90% of all the broken links I’ve ever found on my personal blog have been in the comments section of my blog.

The second is links to online shops. Think about it; shops are constantly adding new products, and removing old ones that have sold out or been discontinued. It’s obvious that links to shops are going to be problematic!

Finding and fixing broken links

If your website or blog runs on WordPress, then you can use a plugin to help you find broken links. I use a plugin called Broken Link Checker which currently has over half a million active installations.

To install this plugin, log in to your WordPress admin area and navigate to Plugins then Add New.

On this page, search for “Broken Link Checker” and you should see a plugin that looks like this:

Broken Link Checker plugin | HollyPryce.com

Click Install and then Activate.

Once the plugin has been installed, go to Tools and then Broken Links. If your website has no broken links then you should see a page that looks like this.

Broken Link Checker empty | HollyPryce.com

However, if your website does have any broken links, they will be listed here like so:

Broken Link Checker results | HollyPryce.com

Side note: It may take a while for this plugin to search for broken links, particularly if you have a lot of posts and pages.

If you hover over a link you will see some options.

Broken Link Checker options | HollyPryce.com

To update or replace the URL, click Edit URL. Here you can change the URL and the text if you wish.

Broken Link Checker edit URL | HollyPryce.com

To remove the link (and keep the text), click Unlink. This will automatically remove the link for you.

If the link is broken and it’s been flagged by mistake, click Not Broken.

If you don’t use WordPress…

Don’t worry if your website or blog doesn’t run on WordPress. There is a website called BrokenLinkCheck.com which will search your website for broken links and report back a list of broken links.

Side note: Sometimes I use this as well as the Broken Link Checker plugin for WordPress just to make sure it’s working properly!

To begin a search, go to the website, enter your URL and the security code and click “Find broken links now!

Broken Link Checker website | HollyPryce.com

It might take a while to get your results back, especially if you have lots of posts and pages.

The checker will produce a list of all broken links. If you click on URL next to the link you will be taken to the exact page where the broken link is located. You will then have to go into your CMS or website files and remove or update these links manually.

Broken Link Checker website results | HollyPryce.com

Admittedly, this could take a very long time to do! Which brings me nicely on to my next point…

Don’t forget to commit to regular maintenance!

Checking and cleaning up broken links isn’t a one-off job. Links are always going to get broken, so make sure you are regularly checking for them.

For example, I check for broken links at the beginning of every single month. That way I will only have to deal with a few broken link rather than the hundreds that might result from not checking my links for years!

Pin for later?