Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

How to check for broken links on your WordPress website


Having non-working links on your website can negatively impact user experience and even conversions! Nobody wants to end up on pages that don’t exist. In WordPress, checking for broken links is a super easy process that can be automated. But we have to set it up first.

For the most part, I deprioritized it and didn’t think about it much until a few readers let me know about not working links. It was so low on my list that I even set up a new 404 Error page AND even blogged about that process first. But ultimately, setting up an automated broken links check is worth it and super easy. In just a few days of it being set up I’ve been alerted to about 10 broken links – about 5 percent of the total!

First, I downloaded the Broken Link Checker WordPress plugin from the WordPress repository. Once installed and activated you can find it under Tools in the menu on the left side when logged into the WordPress back end.

To set it up though, go to PLUGINS from that same sidebar and click on SETTINGS underneath the listing of the Broken Links Checker plugin.

That will take you here:

broken links settings

I initially had it set to check links every 72 hours, which might be too often and not necessary. I changed it to every 900 hours (so every 37 days) now so we’ll see if that works and is enough. Getting an email notification when new links are found is great because I likely would not remember to check the metrics inside my WordPress dashboard.

In the next tab you can specify where it should check for broken links:

I’m just asking it to check on pages and posts and only when they are published or scheduled. And finally, I checked these boxes on which links to check:

As you can see the setup is simple.

Broken links wrap

It’s easy to ignore the need to check for broken links and early on for a new blog it likely isn’t a huge deal. Few posts likely means few links anyway. And even fewer links that end up being outdated or updated. But the more posts there are, the more links there should be and the more likely there’s a chance for one needing to be removed or updated.

According to the broken links checker I currently have 212 links on the site. Given that there are more than 850 posts and pages that’s just one link every four posts. Ugh. Not to look for excuses but earlier posts likely brought that ratio down. I recommend that most posts should have three links. Of course, links are best when they offer value to the audience. If a link doesn’t offer value, don’t force one. And I do recommend and prefer links within copy versus at the end of articles.

Some content strategists will say “but then people might leave our site (by clicking on the link).” They will leave at some point anyway and if the link is useful make it easy for them to click on it.

I would recommend setting up the broken link checker and once it’s setup you can forget about it for the most part.

 


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Christoph

Christoph blogs on The Authentic Storytelling Project and is a globally recognized content marketing expert. The IMA named him Internet Marketer of the Year in 2015. He works with healthcare organizations and other brands around the globe.

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