How to Fix WordPress Broken Links on Your Website

Howdy ladies and gents. Let us fill up those mugs and talk about WordPress broken links; a thorn that stings just as much as WordPress spam. But don’t get carried away here, today we will focus entirely on how to find and fix broken links plaguing your WordPress site.

Also known as dead links (whoever comes up with these terms), WordPress broken links are as bad as they sound. For starters, dead links will crop up thanks to a number or reasons, so there’s no definite way to pinpoint the cause. Secondly and more importantly, WordPress broken links have adverse effects on your WordPress site.

But what really constitute a broken link? A broken link is 1) any link that leads to a non-existent resource and 2) an incorrectly placed link that leads to a 404 error page, or any other page but the intended page. In other words, broken link leads you and your readers nowhere.

Causes of WordPress Broken Links

If your stats widget shows users end up on a 404 error page when they click a link on your site, broken links are eating your business from the inside out. Yet you don’t remember taking down resources (audio files, video files, images, documents, posts, pages etc) or doing anything else that could lead to 404 errors. So, how could it be you have dead links messing up things for you?

Stay calm, WordPress broken links give it to entrepreneurs left, right and center all day long. It’s true you’re not alone, but things will brighten up in a minute. WordPress broken links hit due to a number of reasons such as:

  • A recent move to a new host was not as successful as you imagined
  • You linked to a third party resource, and said third party removed it or changed its URL
  • Perhaps you changed the URL of an old post but forgot to update all pages and posts linking to the post
  • Some bad guys dethroned you
  • New business strategy involved changing your domain name
  • Since to err is human, you misspelled a link e.g. you left out a letter or the http:// part of a link
  • Commenters left links that lead nowhere
  • Your host has unusual firewall settings because…well…some hosts play rough
  • Did you migrate from Blogger to WordPress and your permalinks changed? This happens a lot by the way
  • If you forgot to fix links after converting your site from HTML to WordPress, you’ll have broken links
  • A third party website you’re linking to is offline because the owner hasn’t paid for hosting or has closed doors

Phew, what a list, and even though it’s improper to assume, I would suppose there are more. Worry not if yours is an isolated case of WordPress broken links; the solutions we offer up in a sec should take care of your woes once and for all. But first, let’s take a selfie move on to the effects dead links have on your WordPress site.

Effects of WordPress Broken Links

Effects of Broken Links

There are many ways in which broken links can negatively affect your website, but here are a few of the most concerning for you to consider.

Bad User Experience

Nobody fancies landing on the dreaded 404 error page. If you didn’t know, most users are unwilling to stick around on your website if they can’t find that is which they came for. A clever 404 error page alleviates the problem, but to some degree.

Best is to fix broken links to ensure readers don’t end up on your 404 error page to begin with. After all, bad user experience, among other things, breeds bad reputation.

Lost Traffic

To online business, traffic is like the blood flowing in your veins. It’s a precious commodity, without which your website shrivels and dies. Without traffic, your website is as useless as nipples on a breastplate (hello, GOT fans). That said, you need to handle traffic delicately or your well will dry up.

A healthy linking profile is exactly what you need to move traffic from acquisition to conversion. If broken links come between you and your readers, you will lose the latter and your sanity will fly out the window. You will lose the numbers and it will hurt badly.

Having a broken link smack in the middle of your sales funnel disrupts traffic flow, which introduces us to our next point.

Lost Revenue

Here’s an hypothetical situation to maul on. Your website is doing really well. Your WordPress marketing tactics are paying off and from analytics, you are pulling the numbers from the right sources. In others words, you’re pulling targeted traffic; the sort of people who buy.

There’s one problem though. Your conversion rates suck big time. Something is draining your marketing dollars and effort. You put on an A-1 performance as far driving traffic goes, but the monetary reward is sucking the life out of you. It’s depressing.

As it were, you run a website audit and to your dismay, you have broken links pointing to your products, which means your customers drop off long before you can cash in. Your competitor is smiling all the way to the bank, and you’re stuck in a financial quagmire.

Perhaps this isn’t the case. You have outbound links pointing to your affiliate program, and things are going well until the affiliate provider changes tactics, or in the case of a marketplace, the product supplier drops out. But you don’t know this, so you end up losing a lot of money.

It could happen to you, just like it happened to out friend Ray:

{Some} affiliate providers are a bit sneaky in that when the product supplier drops out and no longer is using them, they {redirect all this traffic to their home page}. I therefore found on a report that one “dead link” that WAS clicking through to a product was being flipped to the affiliate provider’s main page (now unrelated) – therefore {costing me over 2830 clicks!} That’s lost sales for me. Say the sales {conversion} rate was 1%, that’s 20 to 30 lost sales. – Ray, as seen on Broken Link Checker WordPress Link: Fix Broken Links & Redirections – ShoutMeLoud

Note: Edits in braces made by author.

Need I say more? Fix ’em broken links.

Poor SEO Profile

Ranking highly in search engines is easy provided you do all the right things. This means, doing everything Google recommends, and doing it by the book; no trickery.

While Google doesn’t give a hoot about 404 error pages, they still consider user experience a ranking metric. If you offer awesome user experience, it “…helps ensure that visitors to your site perceive it positively, encouraging sharing, bookmarking, return visits, and inbound links—all signals that trickle down to the search engines and contribute to high rankings.”

Broken links, boys and girls, are bad for user experience, which means they are just as bad for your SEO profile.

Secondly, Google spiders crawl your site and follow links to index more of your content. If your content is great (another SEO ranking metric), Google rewards you with better rank. If Google can’t index your content because dead links stop spiders dead in their tracks, guess what happens to your rank?

Broken links will tank your SEO rankings, which boils down to low traffic that results in lost revenue, which ultimately leads to migraines and you get my drift.

Now that you can tell WordPress broken links are bad for business, are you motivated to fix them? Good, let’s dig in.

How to Fix WordPress Broken Links

Available to you are a number of way to find and fix WordPress broken links easily and quickly. We shall categorize these ways as:

  • Broken Link Checker Plugins
  • Link Checker Services
  • Other link checker tools

We will cover a few options in each of these categories, since all you need is the Broken Link Checker plugin. It’s 100% and quite impressive by many standards.

Let’s kick off with WordPress broken links plugins.

WordPress Broken Link Plugins

Disclaimer: There’s been much talk about broken link plugins draining server resources. As a result, some hosts block some of the plugins. If you notice significant performance drops while using any of these plugins, deactivate the plugin after fixing your broken links. In fact, activate the plugin only when you need to check your WordPress site for broken links.

With the nasty out of the way, here are some of the best WordPress broken link plugins to ever grace the webs.

Broken Link Checker

Broken Link Checker

With over 400k active installs and a stellar rating of 4.10/5.00, this plugin is arguably one of the leading broken link checkers for WordPress.

Vladimir Prelovac and Janis Elsts built Broken Link Cheker, which checks “…your posts, comments, and other content for broken links and missing images, and notify you if any are found.” Yep, it’s that simple.

This plugin combs your posts, pages, blogroll, comments and custom fields for broken links and notifies you via the WP Admin Dashboard or email. You can stop search engines from following broken links and display dead links differently in your posts so as not to confuse readers.

Broken Link Checker is highly configurable, which means you can filter links by URL, anchor text and so on. If the plugin detects any broken links, you can fix them directly from the plugin’s page. We are just scratching the surface here guys, as this plugin comes with many more features.

WP Broken Link Status Checker

Broken Link Status Checker

Numero dos goes to WP Broken Link Status Checker by SeedPlugins in conjunction with Pau Iglesias. It pulls some weight as far as identifying broken links goes, but it sucks as far as fixing link rot goes.

I say this because you have to visit the affected post/page just to edit or remove the dead link. That or you can simply trash the link, which is sort of subjective. Other than that, this broken link WordPress plugin is easy to install, configure and scores well in the rating department.

The admin comes with options to customize each scan, and you can view the results in the plugin’s page or via email. You can, obviously, get more features with the WP Link Status Pro version ($20 bucks).

Link Checker

Link Checker

For starters, you cannot use this plugin in a local development environment, which is uncool. This means the developer is using an external server to check broken links on your site. He says no sensitive information is uploaded to the server, but what are your thoughts on this?

The free version allows you to check the first 500 links, which is limiting as we have free options without limits. You will need a pro version to check beyond 500 links.

On the other hand, there’s little server load, which is a good thing. It’s simple to setup, works out of the box but I noticed a slight clash with the Broken Link Checker. It, however, plays along with other plugins. The pro version allows you to schedule scans among others things. It has an above rating of 3.70/5.00 and over 2k active installs.

Overall, the Broken Link Checker plugin does it for me.

Link Checker Services

While WordPress broken link plugins will help you to identify and fix broken links, link checker services help only with the former. That’s better than nothing, right? The only downside is you will need to fix WordPress broken links manually (painful) or using plugins.

Seeing that you will still need a plugin such as, again, Broken Link Checker, I will summarize the next section in case you’d like to check out some of these services. Deal? Good.

Third party link checker services include:

  • W3C Link Checker – This link checker shows you all dead links, their status code (e.g. 404, 403, 301 etc) and the suggested course of action.
  • Google Webmaster Tools – This is a great tool to check not only broken links but also other site errors. You have to hand it to Google, for these guys offers you a great deal of information about your broken links among other errors. They will even categorize the errors, and offer you juicy details such as when the broken links were first detected.
  • Online Broken Link Check – This is a basic online tool that comes in handy if you need to scan a large website. It takes time, and the free version allows you to scan up to 3000 pages. On top of that, you will need the paid version to check links in documents (PDF, DOC, XLS etc) and images, which is sort of a bummer.

Other Link Checker Tools

Other broken link checkers worth a mention include:

Fixing WordPress Broken Links

With all the tools in the previous section, you should capture dead links long before they wreak havoc on your WordPress site. All you have to do is rewrite, replace or remove the dead links.

However, the above three actions can result in significant losses in traffic especially if you’re fixing links that point to internal posts/pages.  For instance, if you rebuild your site from scratch, buy new domain or change the post/page slug, you’ll disrupt your linking pattern. A better alternative would be to redirect old links to new ones. This way, you can preserve traffic and SEO juice.

Still on the subject of fixing links, another website might link to your domain incorrectly, which means visitors who follow that link won’t find you. Just contact the publisher in question to have this resolved. You can redirect the incorrect link to another page as well, but that’s topic for another day.

If, on the other hand, they link to a post or page incorrectly (but don’t mess up the domain part), readers who follow that link will land on your 404 error page. You have two options here: You can either build an impressive 404 error page to capture the readers or redirect this traffic elsewhere.

As We Part Ways…

Fixing WordPress broken links results in better user experience and traffic, both of which translate to better conversions.

You can find and fix dead links using any of the methods and tools suggested in this post. If you’ll indulge me, I root for Broken Link Checker any time of the day.

We hope this post helps you to fix broken links on your WordPress site. If you’re privy to other methods and tools, please share freely in the comment section below. Here’s to a healthier site. Cheers!

Freddy
Post Author: Freddy

Freddy is a WordPress theme reviewer at WP Theme Raves, published WordPress blogger, web dev and founder of Vista Media Enterprises, an online business dedicated to WordPress users looking to boost conversion rates via content marketing.

Disclosure: This page contains external affiliate links that may result in us receiving a comission if you choose to purchase said product. The opinions on this page are our own. We do not receive payment for positive reviews.
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  1. Mike Lamis says:
    Nice Post Freddy. This is pretty useful since broken links not only annoying but also slows down the website as it returns 404 Error. Fixing broken will surely speed up the website for good.
  2. This is a great guide that actually works!

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