Last updated on August 1st, 2018 at 06:24 pm
If your blog is annoying visitors with 404 errors. You are not only upsetting your visitors, chances are it’s costing you penalties in search engine rankings. In this tutorial I am going to show you how to check for broken links on your WordPress blog, using a free plugin.
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Unfortunately, I won’t show you how to fix the broken links. This post only covers how to setup the plugin and which settings I use on my blog.
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Why It’s Vital To Check For Broken Links
Do you know how many of your internal links are broken? Internal links are extremely vital in determining search engine results. They are also great for pointing people to other related posts that will keep them on your blog longer.
This will help improve the reader’s experience as well as your bounce rate. I’ve written a tutorial on how to install Google Analytics on your blog, read it here.
If you have a self-hosted WordPress blog then today, I am going to show you how easy it is to check for broken links. You don’t want your visitors clicking on links that lead them to nowhere and provide a bad user-experience.
You also don’t want the search engine crawlers to find your broken links, which can lead to site-wide penalties.
I know what you’re thinking, here’s something else on my plate I have to take care of. Well the great news is that we are going to be using a free plugin to automatically check our site on a daily basis.
I love automating as many things as possible. I’ve written a tutorial on how I automate my daily backups, in case you missed it.
Free Broken Link Checker Plugin To Automate The Process
I realize you can use the Google Search Console to help you find broken links on your blog. However, this requires you to take action.
As a blogger who is trying to build a business, there’s not enough time to add another task to your to-do-list. Sure you might take care of it today because it’s fresh on your mind.
Related: My Weekly Blogging Duties
What will you do a month or 6 months from today when you’re no longer thinking about broken links?
You need to set this up as an automated task, just like we did our WordPress backup maintenance plan.
Instead of manually checking for broken links, we are going to use this plugin to help us. At the time of this writing it has over 500,000 active installs.
I won’t go through the actual installation of the plugin. I’ve written an in-depth WordPress plugin tutorial that will help you learn everything you need to know.
So let’s log into our WordPress dashboard and get the plugin set up correctly.
Setting Up The Broken Link Checker Plugin
I figured the best way to show you how to setup the broken link checker plugin is to set it up on my development site. I use Desktop Server for all my development sites.
I am going to run through the settings that I use for my own sites as well as my clients.
You don’t have to use the same exact settings. It’s your blog and you can run it anyway you want. So don’t feel like your settings need to match mine.
Here we go…
As you can see there are 5 tab options on the settings page. I leave most of my settings as the default settings, I only make changes in the following tabs.
General and Which links to Check
So I will only be covering those 2 tabs. As I mentioned, if you want to change the default settings in the other tabs, then feel free to do so.
Broken Link Checker Plugin General Settings
We will run through the settings on the general tab so you can see how my settings look like on my live blog.
Status: This shows general information regarding the plugin and you can see if your blog has any broken links.
Check each link: I’ve left mine at the default of 72 hours. This means that every 72 hours it will scan your blog for broken links.
E-main notifications: I like to receive email notifications as soon as broken links are found. If you allow guest posts on your blog, you might want to consider sending authors emails about their broken links.
Notification e-mail address: You can leave this empty if you are using your admin email to receive notifications. If you want to send your notifications to a different email, enter it in the box.
Link Tweaks: As you can see I’ve checked all of them. By default only the
"apply custom format to broken links" is checked.
Suggestions: By default this is checked and I leave it that way.
Warnings: This sends you a warning that you may have a broken link on your blog. Not every warning you receive will be a broken link. You may encounter issues such as a site that takes too long to load is showing up as a broken link.
So now let’s head on over to the final tab that I make any changes to.
Which Links to Check Settings
By default only 3 boxes are checked when you install the plugin.
If you are using a hosting account that has limited bandwidth, you may want to leave the settings as is. I host my blog with SiteGround and I haven’t experienced any bandwidth issues for my settings.
So let’s quickly run through why I checked the boxes like I did.
Since I started my YouTube channel, I like to embed videos on some of my blog posts. Therefore, I want to make sure that my links are checked on a regular basis.
If you don’t embed YouTube videos, then don’t check that box.
As you can see, I don’t check Vimeo and DailyMotion videos. That’s because at the present time, I don’t have any of those on my site.
You can always change these settings as your blog starts growing and check or uncheck the ones that are appropriate for your blog.
These are the exact settings I use. You might also want to take a look at the recommended permalink settings for a self-hosted blog.
Final Take Away
I know that your main goal is to grow your blog and make money, sell services, sell digital products or whatever (you put in your why here).
You can’t overlook the fact that broken links can cause havoc for all your hard work. If you are still having trouble writing your first blog post, I’ve written a great tutorial here.
I recommend you read this post on setting up the Social Warfare plugin. This plugin makes it easy for readers to share my blog posts.
As usual, I try to make my tutorials as simple and user-friendly as possible. If you still have any questions or comments regarding the Broken Link Checker, be sure to post your comments below.
I will try to help you out as best as I can.
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How often do you check your blog for broken links? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.