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Goldlilys Media

San Diego Web Design and Development For Growing Businesses

Do You Wish You Had A Better Way To Find Broken Website Links Before Your Visitors Do?

September 19, 2016 - 8:00am -- goldlilys
Do You Wish You Had A Better Way To Find Broken Website Links Before Your Visitors Do?

“If a link is broken, the entire chain breaks.” – Yiddish Proverb

Once a website is built, contents are added and launched, you will feel like celebrating. All the hard work and long hours put into making the website as beautiful and resourceful for your visitors as much as possible should be recognized. But what happens if some of your links are broken? Wouldn’t your website be perceived as unsuccessful instead?

Broken links for websites gives visitors a damaging perspective towards your business. For example:

  • Bad User Experience (UX)

    1. Once a user clicks on a link and taken to a page not found (404 error page), he/she will get frustrated and leave
    2. Thus losing a potential lead for your business
    3. Visitors like websites that work intuitively and flow easily without trouble of going from one page to another
  • Downgrades your SEO activities
    1. Search engine tracking bots will have a difficult time crawling your website completely because once a broken link is found, it will not scan the rest of that page
    2. Which lowers your ranking because search engines might consider your website as not providing visitors with quality content
  • Lost customers and revenue
    1. Bad reputation for your business
    2. Loss of trust and conversion to your business
    3. Since everyone is somehow connected, one bad user experience can lead to others related to that person to not like your company too

For these reasons, you need to fix your broken links immediately. But how do broken links appear on your website in the first place?

What Causes Broken Links?

If you’ve recently launched your website, the main cause is more likely migrating from the development / staging environments to live server. The broken links are still linking to the development website. For internal links, it is better to not hard code the domain name, but use relative paths to the pages. As an example,

Use    

/international-youth-symphony/    

instead of     

http://sdys.org/international-youth-symphony .

This way no matter how many times you may change your domain name, those pages will still work.

If you’ve had your website up for a while, the cause of those broken links could be from:

  • Linking to contents or media (PDFs, videos, podcasts, etc) that no longer exists or has been deleted
  • Linking to 3rd party websites or pages where the titles could have been changed

How To Find Broken Links And Fix Them?

After learning that your broken links must be fixed, how can you efficiently find them? You shouldn’t have to visit every page of your website and check manually … especially if you have a lot of pages. That’s going to be tedious and annoying. There are three ways to find and fix broken links:

  • Use Google Analytics
    1. In the dashboard, go to Intelligence Events and Click on Daily/Weekly Events (depending on how many times you want to be alerted when there’s a broken link)
    2. Create a Custom Alert
    3. Title alert name to “404 Page Not Found”
    4. Choose the Period of alerts
    5. Setup Alert Conditions where Page Title matches [the header title of your 404 page]
    6. Save alert
  • Use plugins
    1. Drupal Link Checker
    2. WordPress Broken Link Checker
  • Use Dead Link Checker

No matter which way you decide to find those broken links, you’ll have to manually edit those links to the correct domain name or change to relative paths for internal links. Once you think every broken link is fixed, re-run the broken link checker again to see if you’ve missed something. You can never be too careful. Why?

“The weakest link in the chain is also the strongest. It can break the chain.” - Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

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