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How to check your site for broken links

I’ve written before about 404 errors, but I thought I’d cover the issue of broken links. Broken links happen to every site, including mine, and usually for reasons outside of one’s control.

However, it is important to make sure links on a site are as accurate as possible. Accurate, working links help keep a website useful for visitors.

Below are a few tools for checking for broken links.

Broken Link Checker plugin

The WordPress plugin Broken Link Checker does a thorough job at checking broken links on a WordPress-based site.

Unfortunately, the downside is that this plugin (like similar ones) can use a lot of resources on a website. Depending on the hosting plan and web host, this might be a bad thing (per resource limits); a few ISPs even go as far as banning this plugin. This plugin’s probably better advised for those with higher-end, non-shared hosting plans.

The website doesn’t need any plugins. Instead, you just enter the URL of the site you’d like to check, and it’ll scan for broken links on up to 3000 pages.

Larger sites might not find this checker to be sufficient. However, those with smaller sites or want to offload link checking to an external server will find this site useful.

Manual search

Of course, even if you do find broken links, you’ll have to see if it’s possible to find a replacement link.

I’ll often do a search to see if the article the link pointed to is still on the site, just under a new URL. If not, I’ll search for an alternative to the original link, such as a different news story about the same subject.

And if that fails, I’ll just delete the link outright. The latter’s often the case for links such as to now-deleted YouTube videos, or articles moved behind a paywall.

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