One of the things that Search Engines and Blog readers hate are broken links.
The problem is that we don’t really know they are there. Sometimes you make a typo when you are inserting a link, but most often when broken links appear on your site, it is because a person who commented on your site made a typo or because the website which worked at one time moved or disappeared.
So how are you to know which links are still good and which ones are bad so you can fix them?
There are two ways.
First, you could go through your entire website, post by post, page by page, clicking on each and every link to see if they are still good, and you will have to do this at least once a week just to make sure that all the links are still good.
If that doesn’t sound like fun, then the second option is the way to go:
Install a plugin to check all your links for you.
I don’t know about you, but I choose to install the plugin.
The best plugin for this purpose is “Broken Link Checker.” Here is a guide on how to install it and set it up. This is part of the 10 Essential WordPress Plugins for the new blog.
Install the Broken Link Checker Plugin
As with all other plugins, install it from within your Dashboard by clicking “Plugin > Add New.”
Once you find it, install it and activate it.
Broken Link Checker Menu Items
The plugin adds two menu items, one in Tools, and one in Settings.
The menu item tools is where you would go to find out if the plugin has found any broken links.
Initially, if you don’t have any posts yet, or if the plugin has not yet checked all your posts and pages, it will not find any broken links. It will look like this:
But after it finds some broken links, they will look like this (I created a bad link just to show you what it would look like):
As I indicate in the screenshot, the plugin tells you everything you need to know about this link. What website it is pointing to, the problem with the link (this one just doesn’t exist, but sometimes it is a timeout error or something else), the anchor text that hold the link, and the blog post or page that the link is found on.
Correct a Link with Broken Link Checker
To check the link yourself or edit it, just hover your mouse over the link and options will appear beneath it.
If the link has a typo, you can edit and correct it.
If the link simply doesn’t exist, then you can “Unlink” it, or if you know the link is good because you clicked on the link and it took you to a real website, then the plugin must have tried to access the site when it was down or offline, and you can click “Not Broken.”
Another option is to click the box next to the bad link, and in the drop down menu, select “Recheck” link. It will put the link in a cue to recheck it later. In this case, I am simply going to delete the link because I know it is bad.
Broken Link Checker Settings
In the first tab of the settings page, you can set how often you want Link Checker to run, how you want to be notified, and what style effects you want to apply to bad links. I leave these at the default. 72 hours is often enough for me, and I like to be notified by email, and I don’t mind the CSS feature it uses, which is to put a line through bad links. It looks like this:
If you don’t like this effect, you can change it to something else by editing the CSS. If you need help with this, let me know in the comments what you want, and we will see if we can work it out. If you just want the link to remain as it is until you fix it, then just delete everything out of the box that appears when you click Edit CSS.
All the other tabs in this plugin I leave alone, except for the “Advanced” tab. It has a default setting of 30 seconds before timing out. I think 30 seconds is too long. When I am browsing the internet, if a website doesn’t load in 5 seconds or so, I usually move on. But let’s be gracious and set it to 10 seconds.
And the rest I am going to just leave as it is.
This plugin is now set up and running! Search Engines and blog readers hate broken links, so make sure that you keep everybody happy by removing all broken links as quickly as possible with Broken Link Checker as one of your 10 Essential WordPress Plugins.