Have you ever been on a website, clicked a link and been presented with the “The page you are looking for is not here” result? You know the page. The one that tells you the link you clicked on is broken. It leads to a page that isn’t there anymore or that has been moved.
Those pages usually then have a list of pages to try or a list of blog posts to look through. But the result is the same. The page you wanted to see is not there. Now you are faced with a choice. You can either dig through the site to try and find the information you were after or you can go to a different site altogether.
Most of us simply leave the site and look somewhere else for the information we had hoped to find by clicking the link. We no longer trust the site we are on to provide the information we want.
Having broken links on your site can really damage your reputation. It gives the impression other things on the site might be broken. We are suddenly not sure about any of the links. Then we even begin questioning the content that is there. Humans are generally very suspicious creatures. If we find one thing wrong we assume there are more we haven’t found yet.
I have been on sites that are created by designers and found broken links. I immediately decide I would not hire them. Why would I want them to work on my site when their own site is broken?
There are multiple reasons why a link might be broken. Maybe the link did work and then the page it linked to was removed and no one realized it was linked in other places on the site. Or maybe it links to a different site and that site changes or goes down completely. Maybe you are creating a series of pages all linking together and miss one. Or maybe there is just a typo in the link and it is off by one letter which makes it so it doesn’t find the page it should.
No matter the reason, if your site has been up for a few months it is very possible you have at least one broken link. The larger the site, the more likely it is to happen. Also the more links you have that link to sites other than your own the more likely it is.
There are a couple of ways to help fix the issue. One way is to simply add a task to your calendar once a quarter to stop and go through your site. If you have a relatively small site this can be easy to do. Simply click on each and every link on your site. Make sure the links are still working and they end up where they should. This is also a good time to look through your content and make sure everything is up to date.
However if you have a larger site or blog on a regular basis the idea of going through the entire site manually can be overwhelming, not to mention very time consuming. I use a plugin to help. This will work for a wordpress based site.
The plugin is called Broken Link Checker. And it does exactly what it sounds like. You install it on your WordPress site and it goes through the entire site and checks all of the links. It makes a list of them and tests each one to see if they all work.
Then it sends you an email listing the ones it thinks are broken. It even tells you where to find them.
You can also set it up to check back through the site every few days.
On one of our larger sites when we first installed it the plugin found 47 broken links! We discovered we had linked to a bunch of items in a folder (audio files) and then moved the folder but we had missed fixing a bunch of the links. We were able to go to the links list page and fix them all right there in one place instead of having to go through the entire site post by post.
Having broken links on your site can hurt your reputation, the trust level of your visitor and even cost you sales. Be sure to stop and check your site at least once a quarter and solve any issues you find right away.
About The Author:
Cindy Clemens is a mom, Best Selling author, marketing consultant, website and Infusionsoft implementation specialist and Co-Founder of Your Marketing University. Her goal is to teach marketing in a simple easy to understand format businesses can use to help gain marketing ideas & market their businesses to boost sales.
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