There’s nothing worse than looking at a website only to find broken links in it; links that, when clicked on, lead to pages that don’t exist. This can be very off putting to a user. It also doesn’t give a particularly good impression to Google either, so it might have a slightly negative impact on your Search Engine Optimisation as well.
Broken links can take the form of:
- Internal links: link to a page on your site where you have deleted the destination page, or – more likely – renamed it.
- Links to files: eg. PDF files, which have been deleted, or updated
- External links: links to websites other than your own which have closed, or updated so that the page you had linked to has changed name
To avoid a bad user experience, or SEO impact, run a link checker program regularly. This is a program on your computer that visits your site, views the home page, analyses the links on that page, checks them, then follows them and then repeats the process. When it has finished it reports any broken links it found, which you can then fix (or ask your developer to fix).
There is a great free link checker which you can find on Google (search xenu link checker). Download, install, run; just remember to put http:// in front of your web address.
If you update your site regularly (if not, why not, you’re missing a big SEO opportunity), or link to lots of external websites, then check on a monthly basis. Otherwise just run it once a year to check your website is healthy.
Link checking is a simple, quick process, so give it a go – it might improve your visitors’ experience AND your Search Engine Optimisation!