When you create a website it usually contains a lot of your own content and internal navigation links. All of these are under your control so you are aware of any changes. You may also want to include links to external resources or websites that would be useful to your audience. These external links however are beyond your control. Over time they may lead to content that has moved or websites that have been abandoned. These broken links are a problem because they lead your visitors to pages that do not exist and present an error page instead of expected relevant content. Additionally, the number of broken links on your website may be a factor which search engines use in determining how to rate your website. It is in the best interest of all parties to fix broken links on your website.
How to find broken links on your website
There are many different ways to find out if your website contains broken links. The most tedious way would be to manually check each ink on your website. This can be a lot of work – especially if your website contains a lot of links. Here are a view more practical tools to discover broken links:
- W3C Link Checker – allows you to check a webpage for broken links
- Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) – crawl errors are a good indication of broken links on your website
- Broken Link Checker (WordPress) – regularly crawls your WordPRess website and notifies you of broken links
How to fix broken links on your website
Finding broken links helps you to identify the problem areas of your website. Now you have to fix these offending links. There are various ways to fix broken links once they have been discovered. The method you decide to use depends on the availability of the content or similar content and the importance of the original link. To fix broken links you can:
- Remove the link to content that is no longer available
- Update the link by finding where the content has moved to and changing the broken link
- Replace the link with another link to relevant content
To fix broken links that occur multiple times in a single webpage or in multiple webpages you may be able to do a Find and Replace in your HTML editor. Many web design programs such as Adobe Dreamweaver allow you to Find and Replace text across multiple pages of your website. If you are using WordPress the Broken Link Checker plugin allows you to replace all instances of the broken links it finds with a new link.
Regardless of how well thought out yor website is it is possible for broken links to creep in over time. This is less likely to happen with internal links than with external ones. Nevertheless, it is wise to check all of your website’s links regularly. No one likes dead ends and a broken link is just that. Use these methods to fix broken links and rid your website of digital dead ends.