Broken links are one of the disasters for user experience (some other disasters are slow website and the interface is not responsive on multiple devices).
The simple reason is, when we actively use links (be it internal links, or links pointing outside the website), especially links in the content, it means that we are Suggestions for the reader like this:
When you want to explore more deeply and broadly the topic you are watching, visit those pages.
Although this is a very serious matter, but Manually checking for broken links isn’t easy for some of the following reasons:
- Any link can be broken any time due to various reasons such as changing the URL but forgetting to redirect, the host is down (temporary), or more serious like the domain name has been canceled, and so on;
- Manual testing is time-consuming and labor-intensive, and it’s not fun at all. You only need about 50 pages to look at (and each page only needs to have about 3-7 links to consider, it is a tiring work).
Therefore, the use of automated tools is inevitable, you just need to choose the right one!
In the eyes of SEOs, broken links adversely affect the website structure, wasting PageRank.
Theoretically, this broken link checker should be included in the SEO audit, so most good quality overall SEO tools should be able to do this job well, for example. Ahrefs, Link-assistant, SemrushHowever, unless you have a lot of money or already have existing capital, they are very expensive.
A very powerful desktop software tool for this is Screaming Frog, highly recommended by many SEO experts, one of the features it does well is finding broken links very quickly, but it also has the price is not cheap at all, £149/year (it’s only free when you have under 500 links to check, photos also count as links, not just articles, so it’s really not much, one blogs of 50 posts can also reach this limit), if you don’t use it for many pages, buying it will be very expensive.
The next section will have more practical meaning when I refer to free tools that still do the above task relatively well.
A. For WordPress Users
The plugin I would recommend is Broken Link Checker (it is one of the best free SEO plugins for WordPress). It not only checks for broken links but also redirect link. Redirect links are of course still better than broken links, but if you can fix it, it should be fixed.
The downside of Broken Link Checker is that it takes up WordPress resources, so it’s wise to use it whenever you want to check it, to turn it on for a day (or a few days if your site is large – it takes a lot of time to check). check), then when finished, turn it off.
When I try to run it on the Ant website, the results are as follows:
It is easy to see that many broken links are due to the fact that the comment section in WordPress requires people to enter a website, people without a website can simply click on a certain page to finish (although, actually, this field is not required to enter- a The way to alleviate this annoyance on pages where your users often don’t have a website is to disable that field so the user doesn’t have to type).
P/S: Anyone new to WordPress, not familiar with how to install a new plugin, please read this article: https://kiencang.net/cai-dat-plugin-wordpress/
B. For users of any CMS
Here I use the online application: http://www.brokenlinkcheck.com/
The advantage is to test up to 3000 pages for free, this number is generally sufficient for most normal users. In addition, this type of check does not consume you as much resources as using the plguin above. The speed is also quite fast, only a few minutes is done.
The downside is that it doesn’t check for document links like pdfs, or images on the web, so there’s a risk of omissions, especially for sites with lots of images, or links to resources.
When setting up your checking options, be sure to select “Report all occurrences of each dead link” so that it returns all dead links on your pages, although this setup usually takes longer to complete ( but it won’t take long so don’t worry):
The results returned by this application are very good, sometimes more than the plugin, specifically it finds a lot of results that the Broken Link Checker plugin does not see:
To explain a bit, 404 means that the site is no longer available, but the domain is still active (other pages on that site are still available), and the bad host is more serious, it says that the whole domain is unreachable. accessible anymore (maybe the domain name is canceled, hosting has problems, and so on, affecting the entire website).
Here I show you only 2 simple, technically least laborious ways to test. Also I heard the following software (free) is also good to try: http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html
C. How to limit broken links
The broken link in terms of the object is divided into 2 sides:
- Broken link from your site: the way to limit is when there is any change in the URL of an existing page you need to do a redirect, if using WordPress, a good plugin to use is Redirection. It’s best if you update all the old links with the new one (it takes more time and effort).
- Broken links from external sites: you will absolutely not be able to interfere in this, over time the number of broken links will gradually increase, because the website in many respects is like a living organism, it does not last forever. A domain name has been removed and all its links are lost or the website owner simply wants to delete a certain page (and they forgot to redirect). The only way to limit the passive direction is to periodically check, maybe every 6 months or 1 year.
OK, if you have any questions, please leave a comment below. Goodbye and see you again sometime.
Extras on the sidelines: In SEO there is a link building technique related to 404 pages that is broken link building. Accordingly, the person who wants to speed up the process of having a backlink (page A) finds pages (called page B) with 404 links in their niche (and that 404 page has more or less backlinks) and then creates a link. similar article on that topic (at least with equally compelling content, better should be better), finally contact site owner B to have them replace the old 404 link in the article with a new one. new links (and through that site A has backlinks and site B no longer contains broken links), which benefits both parties.