Despite all best intentions, broken links are a fact of life on any website that’s been going for longer than a few months. Even if you rigorously follow the advice I gave a few days ago about redirecting urls, you can only control your own urls this way. But what about all those external pages you point to in your posts? If one of those sites closes down, or is less conscientious about maintaining the integrity of their site, broken links appear on your site!
Now, there is no shortage of link checkers on the internet, but for all you WordPress-ers, there’s an easier way – the broken link checker plugin. I recently installed and ran it on one of the sites I look after, and it came up with a list of more than 20 broken links – I had no idea!
Broken Link Checker plugin
This nifty plugin runs in the background anytime you’ve got your admin console open, and produces a report in the dashboard if it finds any dud links or missing images. Each row in the table also has a number of options that allow you to fix the problem without leaving the admin console, so it’s quick and easy to fix them.
As you can see, configuration is straightforward:
- Status – this alerts you to any problems found, with a link to the management page. You can also manually restart the scanning process, although this should rarely be necessary.
- Check every post – here you can configure how frequently your site will be checked.
- Broken link CSS – until they are fixed, by default any broken links will be displayed as crossed out, as a visual cue to your visitors.
- Exclusion list – I haven’t found a need to use this as yet.
- Work session length – pretty self-explanatory!
- “Delete Post” option – the plugin author doesn’t recommend you use this, and neither do I!
If you change any of these values, don’t forget to click the Update Options button.
Fixing broken links
The management screen displays a table, with each row representing a broken link or missing image. It looks like this:
Here’s a brief explanation of each of the columns:
- Post – displays the title of the post or page which has the broken link
- Link text – displays the link text
- URL – displays the faulty URL, along with an Edit option for you to correct it
- View – this allows you to view the post or page, as seen by your visitors
- Edit Post – this takes you to the post editor so you can make changes in context
- Discard – this removes the row from the table, although it will reappear with the next scan if the link hasn’t been fixed.
- Unlink – this gives you the option to remove the link from the post, whilst retaining the link text.
Perhaps the best thing about this plugin is that once you’ve set it up, you can more or less forget about it, and just leave it to run in the background, safe in the knowledge that it’s got your back, and will notify you of any problems. Definitely one to go on the must have list!