At best, broken links take your website’s visitors to a dead end. At worst, it can take them to untrustworthy or even malicious sites. It’s crucial that you keep your website’s links maintained and pointed where you want them. Regular checks are essential and not to be ignored.
What are Broken Links?
Broken links are a common issue for many websites. For those of you living under a rock, links are those clickable words/phrases/icons on websites or in emails or texts that take you away from the page you’re currently on to a different one.
A broken link is defined as any link that doesn’t work or points to an invalid web address. Broken links erode your hard earned SEO and can lead to frustration and lost customers, who may or may not return to your website if they have difficulty accessing content. By regularly checking your website for broken links, you can ensure that visitors have a pleasant and uninterrupted experience while browsing your site, making them more likely to come back again and again.
Benefits of Regular Link Checking
Regular link checking is critical for website maintenance and optimization. It helps keep your website functioning efficiently, secure from malicious activity, and provides users with the best possible experience. Checking your website regularly for broken links ensures that you can quickly identify them and take the necessary actions to fix them.
Ensuring all links on your site are working correctly gives users a better overall experience on your page. If a user clicks a broken link they will be taken to an error page or even worse, sent to an untrustworthy source.
You may wonder how a broken link on your website could turn into a vulnerability. Broken Link Hijacking (BLH) is a web-based attack where the attackers take over expired, stale, and invalid external links on credible websites or web applications for malicious or fraudulent purposes.
All of this could lead to confusion or even mistrust in visitors who might not return to your site in the future. Additionally, checking that all links are up-to-date helps ensure they direct visitors towards accurate information and relevant sources.
Tools for Link Checking
Fortunately, there are several excellent tools available that can help you detect broken links on your site quickly and accurately.
The most popular tool for checking your site’s links is Google Search Console. This free service from the search engine giant will not only help you identify any dead links on your website but it will also provide additional information about each page, such as page speed scores and mobile-friendliness ratings.
Other helpful options include: Sitechecker, Semrush, and Screaming Frog, all of which analyze every link on a web page to ensure they are working correctly (in addition to many other things they do). Each of these has a free level, though it limits you to the number and frequency of pages audited unless you level up to the paid tiers.
Manual Link Checking Tips
If you want to save some money, you can certainly check each link yourself, though this can be time consuming.
First, create a list of all the links on your site that you want to check—this includes both internal and external ones. Next, start at the top of your list and click through each link one by one, noting any that fail to load or show errors. You should also pay attention to redirects; if a page has been moved or removed, make sure it’s not leading visitors in circles or back to the homepage. Finally, don’t forget about images: check every image was uploaded correctly as well as its corresponding alt text description.
Value of Maintaining Links
The importance of fixing broken links on your website cannot be overstated. Broken links can cause a number of problems, such as decreased user experience and lack of search engine optimization. Taking the time to fix broken links is essential in keeping your website up-to-date and functioning properly.
This maintenance is especially important for businesses that depend on their online presence. Investing in a broken link checker can help you identify and fix any broken links quickly and efficiently and help you avoid unnecessary headaches.
Matthew Ogden is a Minneapolis-based copywriter and content writer and editor. He’s written for national retailers and lobster roll companies alike. When not writing he can be found nose deep in a book, writing and performing music, or nerding out about guitar tone.