Broken links are a common problem that has been present on the Internet since its beginning. There’s not a website that isn’t susceptible to broken links.
Broken links are something that can cause a serious damage to your WordPress site and to your reputation as a business.
If users get 404 errors, aka “Page not found” in their browsers when they want to visit one of your pages, don’t freak out! There are numerous ways to fix the broken links in WordPress, and in this article, we’ll be focused on the most practical ones. Keep reading!
Broken Links and SEO
A functional link is a guarantee of page quality. The internal links and the links that lead to your website can have a big influence on your search rankings. This is why cleaning up broken links adds quality to your content and makes your page scannable for search engines.
What Are Broken Links?
Broken links are links that fail to direct you to the desired webpage. Whether they are backlinks, internal links, or external links, all of them have the potential to be broken.
Regardless of the type of broken link you encounter, they generally stem from similar underlying causes.
The Reasons Behind Broken WordPress Links
So, you have broken links on your WordPress site but you don’t know why have they appeared and you didn’t do anything that would cause them to appear, right?
The proneness of links to become broken over time is called link rot. One of the main reasons why links rot is because websites become unavailable or they get shut down.
There can be a number of other reasons why your target users keep seeing 404 pages:
- Failed migration to a new host.
- Linking to a third party that changed or removed the original link.
- Altered URLs of older posts.
- Linking to content that is removed.
- Switching to a new domain name.
- Updates that can break your permalinks.
- New plugins that can affect your permalinks.
The list could go on and on, and the errors above can cause serious effects on your WordPress site and your business:
- Bad UX: Users hate 404 errors and might not reload your page again. A creative “Page not found” design can patch things from a UX standpoint, but only temporarily. Fix 404 errors immediately instead of risking with clever designs.
- Lost Traffic: Without web traffic, having a website is pointless. To scale your website, attract, and handle web traffic, you’ll need a website with a healthy linking structure. Broken links can turn your readers away, you won’t be able to generate new leads, and in the end, will lose sales opportunities.
- Low Revenue: It doesn’t matter if you use some of the best marketing tactics and have the most valuable content on your blog. If the links that lead to your landing and product pages are broken, your potential customers will go straight to your competitors.
- Bad SEO: Google values UX as one of the most vital SEO factors. This means that if broken links on your site make the experience worse, automatically, you’ll slide down in the search rankings. Another thing is that Google wants to crawl and index as much of your content as possible, and a broken link would surely reduce your SEO potential.
How to Find Broken Links?
Before you fix broken links, you have to find them. Luckily, you don’t have to click manually on every link on your website. There are many tools available that can help you find broken links on your website.
One of the most popular tools for finding broken links is Ahrefs. This web-based SEO audit tool can scan your site for errors and highlight the broken links in red. Another option is to use Screaming Frog SEO Spider, which can crawl the website and filter the response codes to show the 404 error pages.
If you’re looking for a free option, you can use Google Search Console to track website performance and show the broken links under the Behavior tab. Alternatively, you can use Google Chrome’s “Inspect” tool, which can open up a panel that shows the links on any page.
Other tools that can help you find broken links include Xenu’s Link Sleuth, SEMrush Site Audit, Sitechecker, LinkTiger, and Dr. Link Check. These tools can scan your site for errors and highlight the broken links, enabling you to efficiently evaluate the overall health of your site.
Fixing Broken WordPress Links
When you spot broken links on your WordPress site, you need to fix them or remove them. If you have a small website with only a few links, you can identify the broken links manually. But, if you run a larger website with hundreds or thousands of links, you shouldn’t waste your time in digging manually and opening the links one by one.
One of the shortest methods is the W3C Link Checker, a tool that checks your website for broken links and more. When you locate the links, you have 3 ways to resolve them manually:
- Correct the Link: Perhaps you’ve entered an incorrectly spelled link. All you have to do is edit the broken URL and replace it with the correct one.
- Replace the Link: Sometimes it is better to replace a link with a functional one.
- Unlink: If the page that you’ve linked to doesn’t exist anymore, or it’s a resource that is no longer relevant, then it is better to remove the link from the page.
Use a WordPress Plugin
Here are 3 great plugins that you can use to deal with broken links. Broken Link Checker:
Broken Link Checker
This plugin by WPMU DEV is a fast and accurate broken links checker. It thoroughly examines all aspects of your website, including external and internal links within your posts, pages, comments, blogroll, and even custom fields. In addition to checking links, the scanning feature also detects missing images and redirects.
You can choose from two different link-checking engines: cloud-based link checker (beta) and local link checker. The main difference between the two is that the local link checker utilizes your site/server resources to fetch and analyze site content, as well as check the status of links.
In both cases, BLC offers a user-friendly dashboard and powerful features that make it easy and automated to stay on top of broken links.
- Run manual scans or set automatic schedules.
- Edit or unlink broken links (coming soon to cloud-based).
- Detailed broken link reports.
- Detection notifications via email
- Advanced search filtering
- Export reports lists for further analysis
Link Whisper scans your entire website and identifies broken links, missing images, and other errors that can negatively impact your website’s search engine rankings.
- Scans your entire website for broken links and missing images
- Provides a detailed report of all broken links found
- Allows you to easily fix broken links within the plugin’s interface
- Offers a range of customization options to fit your needs
- User-friendly and easy to install
Using Link Whisper is easy – you can run an Error Report of your entire website and identify broken internal and external links.
InfiniteWP Broken Link Checker
The Infinite WP Broken Link Checker is a valuable tool for complex WordPress sites. It scans your entire website, quickly identifies broken links, and generates a detailed report for editing or removal. It scans quickly and provides you with a detailed report on all the broken links that need your attention.
This plugin stands out for its flexibility. Once installed, you can activate the features of your choice, customizing it to your preferences and using only the functionalities you require.
Another great feature of this plugin is the ability to edit broken links directly from your WordPress dashboard. This convenient and user-friendly feature simplifies the process of fixing broken links.
- View broken links and redirected links.
- Take bulk actions like unlinking broken links or dismissing them.
- Edit the broken link directly from the dashboard.
- Instantly activate and install the Broken link checker plugin in all your WordPress sites right from the dashboard.
Reset Your Permalinks Settings
The number one thing that you need to do if you have broken links on your website is to reset your permalinks settings. Log in to your WordPress dashboard, and go to the Permalinks Settings.
Change your settings to something different from the standard, and click on “Save Changes”. Go back to your site to see if “Page not found” or 404 error still appears. If everything is working fine, the problem may be due to a minor bug.
Use .htaccess File to Fix Broken Links
If the problem is not solved through the Permalink settings, you can use the .htaccess file, you’ll need to access it through an FTP client. Log in, head to the root folder of your WordPress site, and right-click on your .htaccess file, where you’ll see the option “file permissions.”
Set your file permissions to 644 and go back to the Permalink Settings on your WordPress dashboard, change the settings again, and click “Save Changes”. The problem should be resolved unless you have a corrupted plugin that causes 404 errors.
If you don’t have too many plugins on your WordPress site, you can spot the corrupted plugin by disabling each one, one by one, and reloading the page with the broken link. However, you need to be careful because in some cases, corrupt plugins can work in tandems and mess up your permalinks.
If the plugin is a tool that your business relies on, then you might be better off with an alternative that is safer and premium, instead of a free version that is vulnerable and can destroy your UX in any moment.
If you’ve made it this far, you officially know the drill of finding and fixing broken links on your WordPress website. Fixing broken links will inevitably result in a better user experience and increased web traffic, and ultimately, a better conversion rate for your company.
If you’ve followed the steps above and still encounter problems, feel free to contact us to help you out with the issue. We can always dive into the core of your WordPress site and help you successfully deal with problems that are more complex than 404 errors.
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