Checking for broken links has never been at the top of my ‘to do’ list but the last 48 hours has shown me why it should be!
Here’s why ….
Over the last year or so this site has been pretty badly neglected. My traffic has dropped (mainly from returning visitors) and I lost page rank – probably because I have let the little things go which in turn have developed into some major problems.
When I find problems the first thing I do is to start with the basics and take it from there first. I like to follow checklists and the first place I went to was Google Webmaster Tools to go through theirs.
One thing that jumped right out at me was this ….
How many times have you followed a link to a dead site? It’s annoying and a little frustrating at times but are you aware that it’s also bad for your SEO efforts?
If you have a site that only has a few posts/pages then keeping up to date with your outbound links can be fairly easy – larger sites can quickly get out of control as I found out yesterday!
Checking And Fixing Broken Links
I’ve often used the plugin Broken Link Checker on my other sites and it does what I want it to do. It checks for broken links and monitors your site letting you know if your links break.
I wish that I had taken a screen capture of the results I first got after activating the plugin! There were hundreds of broken links!
As you can see above, I have more than 1,300 outbound links and a few hundred of them led NOWHERE! That is going to hurt my sites ranking in the search engines – no doubt about it.
My heart quite literally sank when I realised that I had to fix ALL of them – there were 216 broken links. What you do need to remember is that the plugin has limits and will let you know when your link leads to a dead end – it’s down to you to go and check if the website is down or gone completely.
I quickly realised that most of the dead links were in comments – people had put their site in when commenting and years later that site is dead and gone leaving me with broken links all over the place.
Another reason why leaving your comment section ‘follow’ is a bad idea. Once upon a time I thought that you should always reward your readers for taking the time to comment – I soon realised that I was being very naive when all my time was spent fighting spam, checking for genuine comments caught up in my spam filter and basically getting really crappy comments just for the links.
This is just one step that I am taking to ensure that this site gets the attention that it deserves – I hope that this helps you to take notice of your own links and keep them working and in order.
Fixing Your Broken Links
- Ensure your WordPress version is up to date (including all your plugins).
- Backup your site before doing anything to it – this should always include installing any new themes or plugins.
- Install and activate Broken Link Checker.
- Check any links to make sure that the site is dead and not just down.
- Fix the broken links by either ‘unlinking’, ‘editing the url’ or ‘marking as not broken’.
- Set the plugin to email you any broken links it finds.
- Consider setting comments to ‘no follow’. You can check for ‘no follow’ links using tools like SEO For Firefox.
When your readers find what they were searching for they are more likely to look around and share your site with others – these two acts are both important for your SEO and I intend to do some posts on them next week.