PSA: Please Fix Your Broken LinksYou get your morning coffee or tea, toast up your croissant, and settle down in your comfy chair to begin your morning routine of surfing the internet for cat videos.
You find this great site with all these links and you realize you can kill a perfectly good hour just watching and reading to your heart’s content. Hooray!
You click on the first link – broken.
OK, it happens, no big deal.
You click on the next one, it works, yay! You watch, you laugh, you cry, you have a great time. You go back to the list, you click on the next one… broken!
You start to get annoyed. You are placated by a funny cat video but then there are a few more broken ones. You get more annoyed.
Then, you knock over your coffee because you’re annoyed and the next thing you know your computer has gone out the window.
Don’t be the reason your reader throws their computer out the window. Fix your broken links.
Fortunately, it’s really easy and there are two ways to do it. Well, first way is super easy and what I recommend. The second way is still easy just a little slower, but it’s a very useful tool I want to introduce you to.
In all seriousness, broken links create a bad user experience for your readers. It’s hard getting someone to your site for the very first time, you might as well work really hard to make sure they have a good time when they’re there so they come back, tell their friends, bookmark it, subscribe, etc… and fixing broken links is almost trivial with these tools.
Broken Link Checker
The absolute simplest way to check for broken links is to use this Broken Link Checker plugin. You can search for “Broken Link Checker” through WordPress and it’s the first one listed (created by Janis Elsts).
It’ll check for broken links (including images) as often as you’d like, though I find that the default of 72 hours is a little aggressive. It checks new links immediately, like if it’s used in a comment. You can have it email you (or not) whenever it finds something.
The value is in the list it creates and how quickly you can fix the links.
I ran it on Scotch Addict and it found 18 broken links out of 495 – not bad.
Now click on the link, this is where the plugin really shines (and outclasses basically all alternatives):
From this screen, you can edit the link, unlink it, or mark it not broken. You can address each one in seconds. No need to load up the page, hit Edit, and find the link. This baby does it all for you.
I’ll list a great alternative below but this is really the solution you need.
Xenu Link Sleuth
Xenu Link Sleuth is an application you can download to your computer. You give it your site and it’ll crawl the entire site, searching for broken links. It’s very fast and extremely effective.
The advantages of this tool over a plugin is that it won’t impact your site’s performance. Every plugin you install will have an impact on load time. The downside is that you can’t edit the link inside the application, you have to load the page, then edit it, find the link, then save. That’s just too much work.
While Xenu isn’t great for finding broken links on your site, it’s great for finding broken links on other sites. Links that should be fixed and perhaps linking back to you!
If you’re concerned about performance, install and activate the plugin. Use it to fix your problems, then delete it. Install it the next time you want to check.
Don’t be the reason someone throws their coffee soaked computer out the window!
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