The other day, I was searching for a restaurant near my house. I was feeling a little adventurous and wanted to try a place I’d never been to before. So I went to a popular search engine that shall remain nameless (Google) and started looking for my new favorite dinner spot.
Much to my surprise, having such high expectations for the most popular search engine in the world, one of the links I clicked near the top of the first page of search results gave me a 404 Error – Page Not Found! A broken link? On the first page of Google? How is that even possible?!
Why Bad Links Happen to Good Websites
Broken links on websites occur for several reasons. The business might be out of business and the website taken down. The web host might be experiencing technical difficulties. The website may be undergoing an upgrade and I just clicked the link at the wrong time. The page might have been removed by the website owner and the links haven’t been updated yet.
Regardless of the reason, it’s irritating to your users when they click a link on your site and get an error page instead. This applies to not only the internal links to other pages on your own website, but also links to external websites that you may have written about in your content. The fact that this happens to Google means it’s even more likely to happen to you.
How to Easily Find and Fix Broken Links
Luckily, there’s a fast an easy way for you to check all the links on your website to make sure they’re working properly. Go to BrokenLinkCheck.com and type in your domain name. Depending on the size of your website, you may need to wait awhile. You can leave it running and go do something else.
Once the test is complete, review your results and correct your broken links if you have any. Here’s what your results might look like:
To find the page where the broken link is located, click the “url” link in the “Page where found” column. If you can’t find the broken link because you have so much content, click the “src” link and look for the link text. For this example, the link text is “Broken Link” in black font in the image below.
That’s pretty simple, huh? You should run this test once per month on all the websites you own. Set a reminder in you calendar so you’ll remember.