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Site Optimization: Checking Loose Links

Search Engine Optimization

The three biggest complains by Internet users are speed issues, broken links, and slow ads. Let’s tackle the number two complaint: broken links. Few things are more frustrating than tracking down the information you want, and you click the link and get the famous “404 Page Error – Page Not Found”.

The term “web” came about as a visual image of how the Internet and web pages work. Through a process of links within a web, each web page connects with another web page which connects with another, and another, and so on and so on, all connecting the strands of the web together. When one of those strands is broken, the web weakens.

A web page features two different types of links: internal and external. External links take the user to another site, leaving yours behind. Internal links are the links that connect one page to another within your website.

As a search engine moves through your site, it relies upon the internal links to move through your web site from page to page, gathering information. If there is a break in any of these links, or you have pages that are not linked to from within other pages in your site, that page won’t be found by the search engines.

If you use site statistics programs to monitor your website or blog visitors and access, check to see how often your 404 page is being accessed, or how often a 404 error is reported. If frequently, thoroughly check how up-to-date your internal links are to keep people inside your site on the right content.

Keeping up with “dead links” can feel like a full-time job. There are several link checking software programs available to help you organize and check your links, as well as free online link checkers to help those with only a few links on their pages. Blogs and pages come and go rather quickly. Or administrators change their linking structure so broken links are found even though the site is still functioning. While link checking programs can identify broken links, you still have to manually check to see if the link is really dead or just moved.

If you have a small business or site, schedule link checking about once every three to six months to keep your external links updated.

WordPress Users

Check with your web host to find out what site statistics and logs they have and learn how to use them to check for broken or dead links. There are also some WordPress Plugins you can use to monitor your site’s activities which also log your Page Not Found errors.

StatTraq offers full site statistics for your WordPress site. ShortStat is a condensed version of statistics added to your WordPress Dashboard.

Bloggers using can track their 404 Page Not Found errors through the Referers tab on your Manage panel. The link on the left shows the incoming source for the link and the link on the right shows the 404 error. Monitor this to keep track of potential page not found errors on your intrasite links.

No matter which version you use, be sure and check your outgoing links on a regular basis. Go through the list of 404 errors and check out the bad links. Fix the link or delete it in the post.

Link Checking Resources


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network Feed on Lorelle on WordPress Subscribe

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11 Comments

  1. Posted February 26, 2007 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    Do you know if there’s a plug-in to make it easy to internally link a line of text in a post or page, to another post or page?

  2. Posted February 26, 2007 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Easier than copy and paste? There are WordPress Plugins that allow you to use non-HTML code such as

    [url]http://example.com/page[/url]

    Check WP-Plugins.net for “links” and “bbcode” to see what comes up. There are a lot of varieties of these but I don’t find them any more helpful than using the quicktag buttons to allow you to copy and paste links into your posts or typing it by hand as I have done for over a decade.

  3. Posted September 3, 2007 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    Hi All,

    I am having links in database and want to chk the links are working or not i tried many software but not able to chk all the links is there any software which takea the links from database or txt files and chk the links.

    Plz help me out.
    Hemant

  4. Posted September 4, 2007 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    What kind of database are you talking about? MySQL? Access?

    I don’t know how to answer this because the links in your database, whatever type it is, can be stored in a hundred different ways. How you export that data is based upon the database and how the links are stored.

    Contact the developers of the database and ask them how to export the data, and then you can use a variety of online tools for verifying the validity of the links.

  5. Posted April 3, 2009 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    We used a link checker plugin, but it caused more problems than it fixed. google sitemaps and webtools is good for checking broken links. It’s the broken links from externals sites that you can’t fix!

  6. Posted May 4, 2010 at 4:51 am | Permalink

    Well with the Broken link checker plugin for WordPress it aint full time job for me though :D

  7. Ziyan-Junaideen
    Posted August 3, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    I have a problem with my site. I have about a dozen 404s and how bad is it for site rank? Some of them belong to posts that I have deleted. Some of them because of custom taxonomies and post types etc.

    What do I do about posts that have been deleted or renamed? I heard about a plugin to monitor changes in slug and re-direct old URL to the new one. Have you come across any thing similar?

    • Posted August 7, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Pages not found are not good for anything, especially visitors. Who cares about page rank when navigation on your site might suck? Seriously. If you have posts you have deleted, time will take care of that with search engines. If you changed custom taxonomies and post types – post types won’t change anything, taxonomies might. Again, let time and a good XML Sitemap (there are a couple of Plugins that generate these automatically for you) will help. If you are running a cache Plugin, clear it. If you changed the name of a post, did you change the slug? If you did, again, time is your friend.

      I’ve found all kinds of gimmicks for search engine ranking and such, and again, time is always your friend. Use it. Things will fix themselves automatically with time.

  8. Posted June 9, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Bloggers using wordpress.com can track their 404 Page Not Found errors through the Referers tab on your Manage panel. The link on the left shows the incoming source for the link and the link on the right shows the 404 error. Monitor this to keep track of potential page not found errors on your intrasite links.

    I think that WordPress must have changed since you wrote this, as I cannot find a ‘Manage panel’, and the ‘refersers’ information offered on the ‘Site Stats’ page does not seem to tally with the advice you give about the links on the left and right.

    Which isn’t surprising given the apparent age of this article (the article itself is undated, but its age would seem to be about six years, going by the earlist comment date) — and perhaps serves to illustrate that content rot is as endemic as is linkrot.

    • Posted June 10, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      This was written in 2005, and indeed WordPress has undergone many evolutions in the process. The Manage menu is gone. To view stats, click the sparklines at the top of the admin bar next to your site’s name, or go to the Dashboard Panel > Stats to access the same. 404 Page Not Found Errors are not tracked as well as they were in the early days.

      Also, as with many WordPress sites, the date of the post is found within the address of the page in the browser, and in the post meta data area found often at the bottom of the post in the text describing the tags and categories in which the post resides. There are many ways to tell the date of a post. Date does not mean the information isn’t valid. In this case, the information is valid, the access point to track the information has changed.

      Thanks for noticing.

    • Posted June 10, 2013 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for helping :)


11 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Trying to practice what I preach, I finally got some time to check my site statistics this month for my main site and noticed that my 404 Page Not Found Errors stats were really high. In fact, I had over 400 visits to dead links on my site. [...]

  2. [...] The power of the link isn’t limited to who you link to, or who links to you, but the life of the link. Are you frustrated by finding a link to an article that might just solve all your troubles, only to find that the page doesn’t exist any more and are confronted with the dreaded “404 Error – Page Not Found”? To help you keep the links on your blog up-to-date and “fixed”, I wrote a few articles on blog maintenance including Blog Maintenance – Check For 404 Page Not Found Errors, Site Optimization: Checking Loose Links, and Those Pesky 404 Page Not Found Errors. [...]

  3. [...] the time. Some webmasters are smart and add redirects, but not all are, so update your old posts by checking for outdated and dead end links and removing the truly dead ones and updating the moved [...]

  4. [...] Site Optimization: Checking Loose Links [...]

  5. [...] time. Some webmasters are smart and add redirects, but not all are, so update your old posts by checking for outdated and dead end links and removing the truly dead ones and updating the moved [...]

  6. [...] Site Optimization – Checking Loose Links [...]

  7. [...] Site Optimization – Checking Loose Links [...]

  8. […] Site Optimization: Checking Loose Links […]

  9. […] and navigational links, lack of text, a table-based design, 404 page not found errors or other dead or moved links, and bad Apache .htaccess or robots.txt […]

  10. […] Site Optimization: Checking Loose Links […]

  11. […] Site Optimization: Checking Loose Links […]

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