Why Should You Check Your Blog for Broken Links?
A broken link, or some people call it dead link, is simply hyperlink which is not functioning, i.e. point to a resource or page that no longer exists.
Bloggers who create content regularly can’t avoid broken links. They sneak in for a number of reasons. If you blog about news and link to press releases or news sites, they often expire after some time.
What Causes Broken Links
A link may be broken for the reasons below:
- A web site is no longer there. Perhaps the domain owner lets it expire.
- Site revamp that changes the structure and pages.
- Moving or renaming a page without proper redirection.
- Linked page is a temporary content page.
If the broken links are internal, you may forget to update the pages that link to it or you made a typo while linking to the page.
The case is different if you link to an external page that is no longer there. You have no control over it and it can be hard to keep your web sites free of broken links unless you check all the pages regularly.
Why You Need to Pay Attention
Web site publishers and bloggers determine broken links as one or all of the following:
- An internal page on your blog or site that is no longer there. (Page not found or missing page, but many people refer to it as a broken link.)
- A blog post or page that contains a link to an internal or external page that returns 404 error code (Not Found).
- An external link to your blog or site that is no longer or never available.
So, when someone asks about broken links and their impact to search engine rankings, they actually refer to several cases at once without even realizing it. Most likely, they refer to the third point though.
Either one of them is not good for your site. The first and second points are indication of a poorly managed web site. Here are a few reasons why you should bother checking for broken links:
- User experience. Broken links give a bad impression and degraded user experience for the visitors. Links that are not functioning certainly are not visitor friendly. In fact, that is the most important reason why you should be checking for them regularly.
- Site crawlability. Bots follow links. A page is not search engine friendly when links are broken. The search spiders are unable to continue the path to find Web content and determine rankings.
- Not being a good publisher. When you link to another web site or page, your intention is to help your audience and also credit the other webmasters for their work. If a page is still there but you make a typo when linking there, you are not helping the page to be found by others. Links make web pages more visible online.
While those may not have anything to do with page rankings, still they would lower the quality of the web page and site as a whole (quality score?)
How to Fix Broken Links
You can test for broken links with Xenu’s Link Sleuth. The free software checks on “normal” links, images, frames, plug-ins, backgrounds, local image maps, style sheets, scripts and java applets. It displays a continually updated list of URLs which you can sort by different criteria.
If your blog is powered by WordPress, you can use the Broken Link Checker plugin to check broken links on your posts and pages at a predefined interval.
For internal page that is no longer or never exist, you may want to create a redirection to your home page or create a friendly 404 page to help the readers find their way to your content, especially if the external site refers you quite some visitors. If possible, ask for the web site owners to fix the link for you.
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