Broken links on your website are a sign of negligence. You don’t want to look like you don’t care!
Both visitors and search engines obviously hate running into pesky 404 error pages. It’s your responsibility as the site owner to prevent this, otherwise you risk losing their trust (and patience).
Broken links are usually caused by:
- poor testing when launching the site
- typos and mistakes when copy-pasting URLs into the site
- forgetting the “http(s)://” prefix for external links
- poorly integrating two or more platforms
- changing domain names or TLDs
- removing content without also removing the links to it
- spammy blog comments
For photography websites, where each image sometimes has its own page, the risk is even greater. It’s very easy to embed images into blog posts and then, after a while, forgetfully re-structure your galleries, leaving a lot of image links invalid.
Broken links are frustrating for your users,
not to mention sabotaging your search engine rankings.
Thankfully, you don’t have to manually browse your site to detect broken links (and it would be impossible to do it page-by-page for large sites). There are plenty of powerful (yet free) tools online to help check your entire site.
Here’s a round-up of the best tools that photographers can use to check their website for bad links:
1. Google Search Console
Google already does the hard task of crawling your entire site frequently, so why not let it notify you of any broken links?
The “Coverage” report in Google Search Console lists any such site problems (both 404s and temporary “soft 404s”), while also providing details about each error so you know where to fix it.
2. Google Analytics
Since Google Analytics already tracks your site, you can simply filter your statistics based on the page title of your 404 error page. With a little more work you can even find out the referring pages, to better track down the problem.
While on the topic, don’t forget to also set-up a custom alert for 404 pageviews to be notified via email:
3. Broken Link Checker (WordPress plugin)
Download “Broken Link Checker” plugin from WordPress.org Directory
4. RankMath SEO (WordPress plugin)
RankMath is fantastic alternative to the popular Yoast SEO plugin, and it comes with a great “404 monitor” feature. Learn more about it here.
Download “RankMath SEO” plugin from WordPress.org Directory
5. Redirection (WordPress plugin)
A very clean plugin for managing 301 redirects in WordPress (for example, when you change the URL of a page or blog post). And it also has a 404 monitor, allowing you to easily create redirects for those broken links to any existing page on your site.
Download “Redirection” plugin from WordPress.org Directory
6. Dead Link Checker (Online)
A robust free online tool that scans your entire site to find internal & external broken links.
The advantage is clear: nothing to install, you can run it from any device or location.
Visit Dead Link Checker
7. Dr. Link Check (online)
Visit Dr. Link Check
8. Broken Link Check (online)
Visit Broken Link Checker
9. LinkChecker (Windows/Mac/Linux)
Great functionality, completely free, does its job well.
10. Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool (Windows/Mac/Linux)
Much more powerful SEO-oriented tool (better suited for power users), it has a ton of features.
Other similar tools include Integrity (Mac) and Xenu’s Link Sleuth (Windows).
Visit Screaming Frog SEO Spider
11. Check My Links (Chrome extension)
Using an extension like Check My Links could make it even simpler to find broken links (or to help with link building).
Visit Check My Links Chrome extension
Making good use of these tools should ultimately give you a clear list of tasks to improve your website:
- manually fix all broken internal links so that people navigating your site don’t ever see “Page Not Found”
- add proper redirects where you’ve changed domains or page permalinks
- notify site owners for any broken external backlinks, or at least change the links to some other valid sites