Broken links are those links which doesn't exist and shows a 404 page not found error. These pages are generally the dead end for bots and can impact your site negatively if the number goes really high.
We generally link to number of sites and web pages while creating our blog posts to provide reference or more information about the topic to our users, and there may be instances that some of those pages doesn't exist any more.
As your site grows old the number of outbound links also increases, hence the possibility of dead links also increases with time. So, we must keep a track of those links and fix them to maintain good health of our blogs.
There my be number of reasons why a link show a dead page such as
- The website you linked to doesn't exist any more
- The owner of the site removed that particular linked page
- The URL of the page got changed
- The site was moved to some new domain and old one is not redirected properly
- A product you linked to doesn't exist
And could be number of instances that the linked page is perfectly fine but the link you used is not correct or there is some issue with the button shortcode as most of the sites uses buttons to link to product reference pages these days.
The important point is that you should keep a track of all those broken links of your site and manage them because too many broken link is really bad for user experience and it can impact the overall SEO of your site as well, even though Google doesn't think so.
Tools to Fix Broken Links in WordPress
There are number of tools and services which will help you to find the broken links in your WordPress site and help you to fix those accordingly.
Google Webmaster Tools
If you own any website, I'm sure you are already using Google webmaster tool for various activities related to your site.
This is a great tool to find 404 errors and broken links as well. You will find the information information about the broken links in the Crawl Errors page; which is located in the Crawl section of the main menu.
There will be some links in this list which you have removed from your site and other links will be the dead pages which you have linked to.
So, once you find the dead pages you can go to those links and replace them with correct links or link to some other reference page altogether.
Broken Link Checker
Broken link checker is one of the most popular and widely used WordPress plugin to manage broken links. This plugin will posts, comments and other content for broken links and missing images thoroughly and show you the details of all broken links.
Depending on your content size, the plugin will take sometime. You can keep track of the progress and tweak various link checking options in Settings -> Link Checker.
Once you install and activate the plugin, it will stat checking the links automatically and display the number of broken links.
You can also get an email to get broken links notification, so that you can come back and rectify the links if the system finds any dead link.
It offers you number of options to set the plugin as per your requirement, you choose the content type which you want to plugin to check for broken links.
And once you find the dead links, this plugin offers you easy option to edit the broken links and replace them with new links or simply unlink from that reference source.
W3C Link Checker
W3C Link Checker is another extremely effective and recommended tool to check broken links in a website. It's a free community supported tool to maintain the health of a website.
This is a very easy to use tool, all you need to do is to put the URL of your site and the tool will do the rest for you. And once the process is complete you can check the result
LinkChecker is a website validator tool that will check links in your website, it's a free tool available under GPL license. The output will be shown in colored or normal text, HTML, SQL, CSV, XML or a sitemap graph in different formats.
Online Broken Link Checker
Online Broken Link Checker is an online tool which you can use this website to check the internal as well as external dead links in any website and show you the problematic pages in any website. The free version has a limitation of 3000 pages, however there is no limitation of number of hyperlinks in one page.
Permalink Finder Plugin
Permalink Finder Plugin is a very useful plugin for WordPress users and it can help you to resolve a lot of issues as far as permalink is concerned.
If you have restructured or moved your blog, this plugin becomes really important because it can help you to manage SEO damage to a huge extent.
This plugin scans your site and tries to find the most appropriate content which is similar of the linked content so that it doesn't show you 404 error page.
The above mentioned tools are extremely effective in finding the broken links in a site and help you to fix those pages. A broken link can be really bad for your site as far as user experience is concerned, so you must keep a track of all dead links are replace theme with correct URL.
Google Webmaster Tool is by far the most useful and easier tool to find the dead links and it it is important because Google will consider their own list to identify the dead link if in case it has some SEO relevance.