Your website is an extension of your business and after putting a lot of hard work into making it a valuable resource for your visitors you want or rather need all links to be working. Broken links on your WordPress site or any other CMS system is bad user experience and also devalues your site’s SEO efforts as they restrict the flow of link equity to your site.
What are Broken Links?
We would define Broken links as “links that result in 404 error pages or simply do not work”. Some of the reasons why links don’t work include:
- Terminated website i.e. website no longer available
- A website page removed was moved without a redirect being added
- The URL structure was changed
Having broken links on your WordPress site is really bad for both your potential client visitors and SEO, therefore, skills into how to fix broken links a CMS platform like WordPress is an important part of running a successful site.
In this post, we’ll discuss in detail why broken links are something worth keeping an eye on and correct in the earliest opportunity plus easy ways of finding and fixing them.
Broken Links Are Bad for SEO and Overall User Experience
All major search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, duckduck see links pointing to your website as a vote for quality and this is why you will see a lot of blog outreach propositions heading your way to try and get some content on your website in return for a link. It’s not a secret that the more links you have the chance that you will rank higher on Google SERPs, however, if those links are then broken then they send a bad signal and therefore, it’s best practice to either remove or update broken links to ensure link juice flows and therefore not link rot.
The natural tendency for links to break is called link rot, and naturally you expect to lose 25% of your links every 7-10 and this could be caused when a website becomes unavailable or interest from owner changes.
A recent study by Raven tool indicated that on average people who used their tool to crawl a website found an average of 23 broken links on their website and these were discovered on both images and text links.
Let’s take practical examples of why broken links are bad for your WordPress site.
- What’s the effect on human visitors? If you have an ecommerce website selling cleaning products like Toiletrolls.com or Loorolls.com you would want people to get what they are searching for. Let’s say I am looking for bulk toilet rolls or hand sanitizers for my office and as a buyer I click a link to take me to these products. I am doing so because I’m interested in the product and I was told this link will take them to.
So, if then what I see is a 404 error page and not the products I was looking for, I will become frustrated and my experience and that of other visitors visiting the website will be frustrating. This will have wasted my time as I will have to visit another website to continue my search. Personally, I would mark that website and potentially never visit again.
Can you see the effect? You lose a customer for life simply because you had a broken link. This website might have just moved the products to a different category and a simple redirect could have saved you a customer. This should be a good incentive to give you a nudge to find and fix broken links on your website. If you have an eCommerce website and want an expert to action your eCommerce SEO for better results, contact us today
- Broken links are bad for search engines. We know search engines use robots and crawlers to scan your website most specifically, Google’s search console or webmaster tools give you equity if you have been offered 1000 crawls having a broken page means that you are left with 999 and as a result, if you have a big website it means you get fewer resources.
Four Ways on How to Fix Broken Links
There is no better time to fix this problem than the present, therefore, lets jump in and answer this million pound question – how can you fix broken links in your content management system?
In this section, we’ll cover ways to fix broken links. Click the links below to jump straight to a specific method:
#1. Web-Based SEO Audit Tool
For those who are novice you will have heard of tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, SEOprofiler. We would happily recommend these 3 tools as we constantly use them on a daily basis. They are all web based tools and you will need to pay for subscription to enjoy their full capabilities. They have very powerful site audit tools in which you can automatically scan your website for errors. Ahrefs and SEMrush have invested heavily on marketing and they are a good bet, however, SEOprofiler is a dark horse and gives you potentially more for your money than the other two as it gives you the best of both worlds.
To identify website errors you can use their website audit tool and errors which means they are critical, or warning and finally notices.
#2. Google Search Console
Also known to many as webmaster tools, Google Search Console is a free but very helpful tool from Google that will help you detect broken links once you have verified your domain name with them. In simple terms it has features that help you “track your online presence, monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot identified website crawl errors like 404 page (broken links)”.
#3. Desktop Software
Just like above, I will give you the tools I use and these two broken link desktop softwares will be of help to you if you know how to use them. It doesn’t take long to know what reports to run. Xenu (free) and Screaming frog(paid for bigger crawls above 500). All you need to do is check for 404 response code which is an indication of broken links.
#4. Online Broken Link Checker Tool
This is a good option for small websites and a website like BrokenLinkCheck.com, will let you check up to 3,000 pages for free. Therefore, small businesses or bloggers could easily run their websites on a free online broken link checker tool to find broken links and then redirect them to relevant pages. How do I use this? Visit this website (BrokenLinkCheck.com), write in your URL, and click Find broken links. Please choose all occurrences as it’s more thorough, helping you list all broken internal and external links plus the page where the broken link appears. All you need to do is go in and fix this rotten link(s).
You can use a plugin to check if you have broken links but we tend to advise against it personally because they consume a lot of server resources and potentially slowing your website down.
How to Get Rid of Broken Links on Your WordPress Site
We have already discussed why broken links are bad and now we will touch on how to fix this issue on a WordPress website. Why WordPress? 35% of the Internet is Powered by WordPress that is more than 0.5 Billion based on the latest research by WhoIsHostingThis.com. Therefore, chances of someone who owns a website on WordPress reading this are high and we would want them to help them keep the internet as user friendly as possible. Once you have identified the broken links, here is what you need to do next…
301 Redirect those broken pages
Here is the solution and this is what is important after identifying the broken links. Before actually redirecting those 404 pages that are a result of broken links, you should first analyse the pages and the reasons they may not be working properly.
Some links are actually visited quite often and these are the ones we need to focus on while others are not, this is why this exercise could be very useful.
If you have a team running your website and have located these broken links, please document them and action the list in order of priority, and once done mark them as complete for future reference.
Redirect using plugins in WordPress
WordPress is essentially the most user friendly CMS in the planet at the moment and as a result of its open source license, developers often create very simple tools to support the overall functionalities and one of them is Redirecting.
Since, I code a little bit I often find myself by default updating some system files like the .htaccess on my individual blogs to run scripts like 301 redirect which I know for sure will work accurately.
However, for those who cannot access these files, plugins are a good way of ensuring you enjoy high level capabilities with simple tools. I prefer using these two: simple 301 redirects or Redirection plugin.
Also, please pay attention to the link format during the process.
Fill the columns as follows:
Redirect 301 — Old URL — New URL
As digital marketers, we have the skills to help you fix any broken links and also help get businesses like yours to the head of the pack. Contact us today for more details about all our services.
Our business practices are no secret and we’re more than happy to share strategies and tactics to assist you to move your business forward using digital platforms.