Broken links are annoying for both web site visitors and for search engines. Fortunately, it is realtively simple to find and correct broken links when you have control over the web site in question.
Links for a given web site can generally be placed into three different categories. There are internal links which are links that point to content within the same domain. Then there are outbound links which point to sites on different domains. Lastly, we have inbound links. Those are the links that point to our site from other sites. In general, we have far less control over “fixing” those, but there are some things that can be done as will be pointed out in this article.
Fixing Internal and Outbound Links in WordPress
There’s a free plugin available for WordPress that will provide a report showing broken links within content, as well as let us know of any missing images. It can be setup to constantly monitor the site after first run to catch any future issue that creeps up so that it can be rectified immediately. Notifications can be made from the WordPress Dashboard or sent by email.
Let’s set the plugin up for first time use. Follow the steps below.
1. Install the plugin like you would any other.
2. Immediately after install it will get to work in the background. It will index all of the links (internal and outbound) and check each one to see if they are broken.
3. You can go to Settings >> Link Checker to modify what is checked and how they are to be checked. You can also setup notifications, etc. I found that the defaults were perfect myself. It checks posts, pages and comments and is setup to constantly monitor the site in the future. I will receive email alerts if and when issues are found.
4. The Tools >> Broken Links menu lists all the broken links found. The tool will let you edit the links without having to visit the WordPress edit screen for the particular piece of piece of content to do so, which is very handy.
Use Google Webmaster Tools to See What Pages on Your Site No Longer Exist But Have Backlinks to Them
If you have verified your site in Google Webmaster Tools, it’s beneficial to go in there after some data has accumulated to look around and see what Google wants you to know. It’s very valuable information.
One report that is very valuable is the Crawl Errors report below the Crawl menu. You may see a “Not Found” section listing URLs on your site that no longer exist but are still being linked to from somewhere.
It will show you some (possibly all) of the URLs on the web (or from your own site) that link to that missing page.
You now have the choice to re-create that page to bring things back in flow, or setup a permanent redirect to some other page on your site. A permanent redirect will tell search engines to flow the link value through to the destination page.
If the page does not exist, or never did, and you don’t wish to create it, you have the option to contact the web master and ask them to fix the “typo” if one exists. You are less likely to get desirable results with this approach but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.