Re-directs & Broken Links

by JL Beeken on 4-08-2009

Google is complaining about broken links going to 404 pages. Although I try to keep on top of this, there’s been a sudden rash due to deleting my re-direct pages. Anyone who’s been around here for awhile knows my website has gone through several incarnations.

Google was complaining about the re-directs first because they’ve had enough time to catch up. So I deleted those and that’s fine with Google but trouble for everyone else. And trouble for me because the 404 pages are coming from broken links on other people’s websites and Google can’t fix those. And neither can I.

Anyone who’s linked to me in the past may have dead links on their pages and they wouldn’t know unless they’re checking their site links regularly. I’ve got two choices: I can either write to site-owners individually or I can make a public appeal. It’s a mutually beneficial thing.¬† I don’t get 404 complaints from Google and you get to clean up the broken links on your site which makes Google happier about you.

There are a couple of tools I’ve found that help with this. One is a Firefox extension called LinkChecker.

After installation, go to the page you want to look at and under Tools, click ‘Check Page Links’.

Or try Pinger. Right-click on the page and click ‘Ping all links’. This will scan all links on any single page. Green for good, pink for not. The downside is you can only check one page at a time.

Here’s an example from AnceStories. Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture is good, The Importance of a Good Backup Plan is a broken link.

Broken Links

Another tool is XML Sitemap Generator. If your website is under 500 pages, it will create a sitemap for free. Even if you don’t need a sitemap, by producing one it will also give you a list of the broken links on your site. It’s a very easy way to get the list and it’s very simple to use. Just put in your URL and click Start.

If your site is hosted on WordPress there’s a plugin called Broken Link Checker that runs in the background and continually informs you through your dashboard about your broken links so you can keep on top of them. In the content itself it will put a strike through any link that’s not working to inform your readers.

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