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Avoid the 404 error on your website: fix broken links

Avoid the 404 error on your website: fix broken links

Imagine promising someone an exciting trip to a special store, and upon arriving, you find out the store has shut its doors. That’s precisely what happens in the digital realm when someone clicks on a broken link.

These faulty links act as unfulfilled promises, leading visitors to a dead-end or, even worse, the dreaded 404 error page.

That’s why we’ve crafted this guide to help you pinpoint and mend those elusive broken links.

What is a broken link?

A broken link is one that’s stopped working, leading to an error page instead of the anticipated page or resource. In more technical terms, it often results in the infamous “404 Not Found” error. Essentially, it’s a dead-end in the online world.

But why does this happen? Here are some common reasons a link might break:

  • Changing the URL: If the linked page’s address or URL changes, the original link won’t work anymore.
  • Deleting the linked page: If you decide to delete a blog post or any page on your site, any links pointing to it will break.
  • URL typos: At times, a simple typographical error when entering the address can lead to a broken link.
  • Hosting issues: If your hosting provider faces problems or if you move your site to new hosting without updating certain URLs, this can lead to broken links.
  • External content removed: If you linked to an external resource that got removed or had its address changed, that link on your site won’t work anymore.

Identifying and rectifying these links is vital for upholding the integrity and professionalism of your WordPress site.

The impact of broken links on your website

The digital realm resembles a vast network of pathways and connections. But what happens when one of these routes is broken? Broken links aren’t just irritating; they significantly impact various facets of your website, boiling down to three essential pillars.

When a site visitor clicks on something appealing, they expect to be directed to pertinent content. Now imagine their frustration if they’re led to a dead end or an error page. This isn’t just a subpar user experience that might make them feel they’re wasting time, but could also make them deem your site as unreliable. In the online world, where first impressions are crucial, every detail matters.

On the SEO front, broken links carry significant weight. Leading search engines like Google aim to deliver the best user experience. A site riddled with broken links can come off as neglected and of inferior quality. Such hiccups can result in penalties, causing your site to be pushed lower in search results. It’s crucial to remember that search engines like Google value a website’s quality and consistency.

Lastly, your site’s integrity and professionalism are mirrored in each of its components. If numerous broken links are detected, visitors might question your commitment and care towards your digital platform, thereby eroding their trust.

In essence, while broken links might seem like minor technical oversights, their impact is profound, significantly influencing the perception and performance of your website.

Tools to pinpoint broken links in WordPress

The “Broken Link Checker” plugin is indispensable for those using WordPress who want to monitor their site for broken links. Once this plugin spots a faulty link, it immediately notifies you, allowing prompt corrections.

To install it, head over to your WordPress dashboard, navigate to the plugins section, and opt to add a new one. Type “Broken Link Checker” in the search box, and once it appears in the results, install and activate it. After activation, the plugin will start scanning your site. If you wish to review the identified broken links, head back to the dashboard, select Tools, and then Broken Links. Here, you’ll gain an overview of the defective links and can amend them or unlink them directly.

Some advantages of the “Broken Link Checker” encompass automation, ease of use, real-time notifications, and the capacity to fix links right from the dashboard. However, bear in mind some downsides, such as it might slow down your site if you’re managing numerous pages or posts, and occasionally, it might flag false positives as reported by some users.

Tips to prevent them in the future

While mending broken links is critical, preventing them from occurring initially is even more beneficial. Here are some tips to help keep your site clean and running seamlessly:

  • Always check URLs before publishing: Before hitting the “Publish” or “Update” button on WordPress, ensure you review and click the links you’ve added. A simple check can avert future hassles.
  • Avoid deleting pages or posts without checking for inbound links: If you’re contemplating deleting a blog post or a page, first see if other parts of your site or external sites link to it. Google Search Console can help spot external pages linking to yours.
  • Stay updated with external links: If you link to external sites or resources, it’s good practice to occasionally check these links. Websites evolve, relocate, or vanish, so keeping an eye on your external links is paramount.
  • Regularly review links using the mentioned tools: Even with the best intentions, broken links can pop up. Set a schedule, be it monthly or quarterly, to comb through your site.

By adhering to these tips, you won’t just minimize the emergence of broken links but also guarantee that your site continually delivers a top-tier user experience and retains good standing in search engine rankings. Forward to a website without errors!