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How To Check For And Fix Broken Links

fix broken linksIf you own a website or blog, sooner or later you are going to start accumulating broken links. Also called “link rot,” broken links happen for a number of reasons. Web pages get deleted. Websites get abandoned. Affiliate promotions change. You may have dead links within your posts or left by guest posters. They may show up in your comments from time to time. You may have affiliate links that are invalid and are no longer earning you commissions. That’s certainly not good!

You won’t always know right away when a link goes dead. Readers may still be visiting an old post and clicking through a link that sends them to an error message. From a usability standpoint, it’s better to not link than to provide a dead link. Even Google recommends that we check for broken links and correct HTML in the Webmaster Guidelines. You can handle this though!

How Can I Check for Broken Links?

Thankfully, there are a number of broken links tools available to help you identify, and in some cases fix, broken links.

I use a plugin called Broken Link Checker that is great at keeping tabs on most links to internal content and external websites. It emails me when a bad link is identified. I can then log into my dashboard and update the link with a new one, unlink the anchor text entirely or excuse the message if the link is still okay. Broken Link Checker is unable to scan CommentLuv, but you should not have any problems with some of the other commenting systems.

broken links

A few websites offer free scans. W3C will allow you to check one page at a time (who has time for that?). Brokenlinkcheck.com will provide you a list of bad links along with the page on your site on which they reside. You can then update those individual posts and pages.

Some dead affiliate links may lead to an error page on the affiliate network’s website that simply says “Oops! This affiliate offer is no longer valid,” and that’s the end of the story. No alternatives are provided to your customer ready to buy, they are simply gone and so is your commission. Unfortunately, many of these instances will not generate a broken link error. You need to check your affiliate reports from time to time to fix these.

In Commission Junction you will see a link to download Invalid Links. This will download a CVS file with the program, referring URL and more.

CJ Invalid Links

ShareASale makes things a little more difficult. You will need to generate a report and sadly it looks like it only shows invalid clicks within the past 24 hours at this time.

shareasale invalid links

Broken links on your website is not something that should cause panic. It happens and it is not an immediate cause for concern. However, you should be checking for link rot on a regular basis to ensure a good reader experience and that you are not missing out on any commissions.

How do you deal with broken links? Or do you?

Comments

  1. I do wish there was more we could do about the broken affiliate links. Fortunately many of the networks I use email me if I’m running a promotion and the lead cap is approaching, so I can go ahead and plan to take it down. Some of them don’t ever do this though, so it is good to go through and check them every so often.

  2. Lately I’ve been using the plug in and the online broken link checker since the plug in failed me recently and still find I have a few each time. I would like to figure out why my plug in is not working like it once did but haven’t found any documentation on conflicts yet. Oh well, the joy of having so many links, lol! I recently read I should be putting the no follow attribution on my outgoing links..What are your thoughts on that?

    • The only time I really worry about nofollow Patti is when I am doing a sponsored post. I think it is needless (and unnatural) overprotection to do it in every instance. I also have VigLink installed on all of my sites. According to them, that prevents passing of PageRank to any site that is redirected through them.

  3. Awesome! I never knew that about Share-a-Sale and CJ. I’m off to check my report now. I bet I’ve got some dead links on an old site that is still hanging about. So, what if someone causes a ‘broken link’ error on your website? Like they type in a bad url. Is there a way to handle that? It’s not exactly a broken link on your web pages, but one caused by the visitor.

  4. Most of my broken links are image links. When I had my blog transferred from Blogger to WordPress this happened. Any advice on how to correct this problem? I have over 300! Yikes!

  5. Great post with a lot of helpful tips – even in the comments! Thank you.

  6. Thanks for this. I normally just change the as I come across them, but I’m running the free broken link checker now and it’s found a HUGE list. Eek. Perhaps something I need to do a little more regularly eh?!

    • Angie Nelson says:

      You can’t catch them all and I’m afraid it would be a full-time job to try. The plugin mentioned above can be a great help for keep on top of things however.

  7. Thank you so much for this information!! I found links that I had no idea were broken!

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