How to Find (and Fix) Broken Links On Your Website

As your website grows, you’ll find yourself performing numerous regular maintenance tasks. Updating your links is often overlooked, yet a failure to fix them can have many negative effects on your site.

You can avoid most consequences (such as an impacted search engine ranking and poor User Experience (UX)) by regularly finding and fixing broken links on your website. The process is simple, and you can easily add the task to your usual maintenance routine.

In this post, we’ll introduce broken links (including what they are and why they’re bad for your site). We’ll then outline how to find and fix them on your website. We’ll also show you how Pretty Links can help you simplify the process. Let’s get started!

An Introduction to Broken Links (And Their Impact on Your Site)

404 error page for Invision

Errors can happen on any site, and many sites (such as InVision) use custom error pages.

In short, broken links are URLs that are either no longer available, or where the content has changed. These links can be both regular (‘ugly’) and ‘pretty’. While broken links can be annoying, they can also negatively impact your website. For example:

  • They make your website appear outdated. With old and broken links sprinkled throughout your site, it will seem neglected to visitors.
  • They can negatively impact search engine rankings. As Google bots crawl your website, broken links will be found. While not a huge ranking factor, they can knock your site down a few slots.
  • They can poorly affect UX. Broken links are inconvenient, and this means your users will get less from your website than if your links were all working properly.

With broken links removed from your site and replaced with high-quality links, you can improve the health of your website. You can also provide a more enjoyable (and valuable) experience for your visitors. As you can see, this task is a win-win for you and your visitors alike.

How to Find (and Fix) Broken Links On Your Website (In 2 Ways)

A better understanding of the effects of broken links is a great place to start fixing them. However, now it’s time to dig in and bring your website up to par. Here are two methods for doing so!

1. Use Google Search Console’s Built-In Tools

Google Webmasters

Google Search Console is just one of Google’s various webmaster tools.

Google Search Console is a free service that enables you to check the indexing status of your website, which enables you to optimize it for better visibility. While there are many tools covering a myriad of aspects within Google Search Console, fixing links is only one of its features.

To begin using it, first login to your account, or sign up to the service. If you’re new to the tool, you’ll also need to add your website before moving on. When you’re ready, select the site you want to monitor from your Console’s Home page:

Google Search Console website properties

 

 

Click Crawl, then Fetch as Google. This is basically a request from you for Google to crawl your website. Once your site has been crawled (which may take up to a week), you can access the results. To do so, go to Crawl > Crawl Errors:

Google Search Console site errors

 

In particular, we’re interested in URL Errors – if Google has found any, they’ll be displayed here. With this information, you can begin to fix any broken links found. It’s a simple solution to a problematic situation. Once you’ve fixed any errors, you can also double-check that you’ve caught everything by again requesting Fetch as Google to begin the site crawl procedure.

2. Use the Manual Search-and-Fix Method

Fixing a broken link manually within WordPress

While not as effective, finding and fixing broken links manually can work just as well as the above method.

With such a simple method in Google Search Console, manually finding broken links can seem unnecessary. However, there are a few benefits to this process. Primarily, it enables you to revisit content to see if it still works for your site and brand. Content evaluation is something often overlooked, but doing it when hunting down broken links can kill two birds with one stone.

It’s definitely a time-consuming process, yet simple. You’ll need to visit each page of your website, and click each link to see if it leads to a live site or an error page. What’s more, because you’re checking out each page, you can also replace outdated links with high-quality ones if the need arises.

However, despite the hands-on approach being a benefit, it’s still not enough to convince us to ditch the Google Search Console method – especially as you can use it alongside Pretty Links.

How to Use Pretty Links to Simplify Fixing Broken Links

Pretty Links logo.

Pretty Links is an all-in-one link management plugin. It has many useful features, including link redirection and URL replacement. In a nutshell, Pretty Links enables you to set up your links and adjust them accordingly.

Once you have Pretty Links set up on your WordPress website, you can begin using it immediately. Go to Pretty Links > Add New Link on the left side of the WordPress dashboard. Here, you can choose a Redirection type, add the Target URL, and choose the slug for your Pretty Link:

The Pretty Links Add New Link page

The plugin also makes fixing broken links simple. If a pretty link you’re using breaks, simply go to the Pretty Links section and select the link you’d like to edit. You can then remove and replace the broken URL from the Target URL box, which will change all instances of that Pretty Link.

Conclusion

Broken and outdated links can have many consequences for your website, including lack of authority and loss of search engine ranking. Simply put, as the site owner you cannot overlook them. Fortunately, there is a way to keep an eye on your website’s links so you can avoid any negative effects.

In this post, we’ve introduced you to broken links and the impact they can have on your site. We’ve also shown you how you can fix the problem in two different ways. They are:

  1. Use Google Search Console’s built-in tools.
  2. Use the manual search-and-find method.

Do you have any questions about broken links, or how Pretty Links can help? Let us know in the comments section below!

Categories: How Tos
Comments

2 Comments

    virginia nicolsq

    October 9, 2017

    Thanks for the info about Google Search Console. And Pretty Links works well for me already!

    John Hughes

    October 18, 2017

    Hi Virginia, you're welcome! We're glad to hear you're happy with Pretty Links. :)