As a webmaster, one of the worst things that can happen is a 404 Not Found error. This can be detrimental to your website as it sends visitors to a page that doesn’t exist. Broken links can drive people away from your website, and it’s important to take preventative measures to ensure that this doesn’t happen. While creating an interesting and unique 404 error page is important, prevention is key. In this article, we’ll introduce you to an excellent free plugin that will help you eradicate 404 error pages from your site altogether.
Introducing Broken Link Checker
Broken Link Checker is an extremely popular plugin that can help you make 404 error messages on your site a thing of the past. Its functionality is simple yet extremely effective: it will crawl and test every link on your site to make sure that each one resolves to the defined URL correctly. If the plugin encounters a problem (such as a 404 error), it will add it to a list of broken links that you can then deal with accordingly.
How to Use Broken Link Checker
Using Broken Link Checker is extremely simple. The plugin does all of the hard work by scanning your site for broken links in the background. Once it is finished, it will present any broken links that it has found to you within WordPress.
There are two ways you can quickly check to see if Broken Link Checker has located any broken links: via the WordPress Dashboard or via the sidebar. The notifications are intuitive and easy to spot, so if a broken link appears on your site, you’ll know about it quickly.
For the purposes of this article, we’re using a blog as an example. As you can see from the above screenshots, there are currently two broken links on the site, so the next step is to check them out. You can do that either by clicking on “Found 2 broken links” in the dashboard widget or by clicking on the “Broken Links” menu item under Tools in the sidebar.
You will then be presented with a screen that shows the URL of the broken link, followed by its status, the anchor text used, and finally the post or page on which it appears. However, the real beauty of Broken Link Checker is that it allows you to correct or remove these links on the fly. Just hover over a broken URL and you will be presented with a list of options.
In the above example, the link is broken as it points at a 301 redirect that has since been removed. As such, we need to edit the URL so that it points to the correct location. It’s that simple! Without leaving this screen, you can take whatever necessary measures to fix any broken links. And with the widget on your WordPress dashboard, any broken link on your site won’t remain broken for long.
Any links that you dismiss can be found under the “Dismissed” link at the top of the page. The above screenshot demonstrates what other error messages you might see. The link to Life Stoked is a good example as it is a regularly updated blog. When Broken Link Checker last scanned it, there must have been a temporary server error which led to it being marked as a broken link. But since we knew better (and upon checking found that it was back online), we were able to mark the link as “Not broken.”
There may be times where you need to look at the post or page within which the link is contained in order to understand its context. The trafficplanet link above is a good example of that. All you need to do is hover over the source link and click on “View.” You can then find the link within the page and make any necessary changes.
A Peerless Plugin?
Broken Link Checker is an invaluable tool for webmasters who want to ensure that their pages remain correct in the future. It’s surprising that there aren’t more plugins that offer this functionality, but Broken Link Checker is the best of the bunch. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to ask them via the comments section below!