Martech Zone has gone through multiple iterations since launching in 2005. We’ve changed our domain, migrated the site to new hosts, and re-branded multiple times.
There are now over 5,000 articles here with almost 10,000 comments on the site. Keeping the site healthy for our visitors and for search engines in that time has been quite the challenge. One of those challenges is monitoring and correcting broken links.
Defective links are awful – not just from a visitor experience and the frustration of not seeing the media, being able to play the video, or being delivered to a 404 page or dead domain… but they also reflect poorly on your overall site and can hurt your search engine authority.
How Your Site Accumulates Broken Links
Getting broken links is pretty common in sites. There are a ton of ways that it can happen – and they should all be monitored and corrected:
- Migrating to a new domain – If you migrate to a new domain and don’t properly set up your redirects dynamically, old links in your pages and posts will likely fail.
- Updating your permalink structure – When I originally published my site, we used to include the year, month, and date in our URLs. I removed that because it dated the content and may have had adverse effects on the ranking of those pages because search engines often thought of directory structures as the importance of an article.
- External sites expiring or not redirecting – Because I write about external tools and research a ton, there’s a risk that those businesses will go under, be acquired, or may change their own site structure without properly redirecting their links.
- Media removed – links to media resources that may no longer exist produce gaps in pages or dead videos that I’ve included in pages and posts.
- Comment Links – comments from personal blogs and services that no longer exist are prevalent.
While search tools typically have a crawler that identifies these issues on a site, it doesn’t make it any easier to identify the link or media that’s erroring and go in and fix it. Some tools do a terrible job of actually following valid redirects as well.
Thankfully, the folks at WPMU and Manage WP – two incredible WordPress support firms – developed a great, free WordPress plugin that works seamlessly to alert you and provide you with a management tool to update your broken links and media.
WordPress Broken Link Checker
The Broken Link Checker plugin is well developed and easy to use, checking your internal, external, and media links without being too resource-intensive (which is very important). There are a ton of settings options that can help you as well – from how often they should be checking, how often to check each link, what types of media to check, and even who should be alerted.
You can even connect to the Youtube API to verify Youtube playlists and videos. This is a unique feature that most crawlers actually miss.
The result is an easy-to-use dashboard of all of your links, broken links, links with warnings, and redirects. The dashboard even provides you information on whether it’s a page, post, comment, or other type of content that the link is embedded in. Best of all, you can repair the link right then and there!
This is an outstanding plugin and a must-have for every WordPress site that wants to provide a superior user experience and to optimize their site for maximum search results. For that reason, we’ve added it to our list of best WordPress plugins!