If 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.
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 This affiliate offer is no longer valid,” and that’s the end of the story.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.
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.
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?