Having spent a large percentage of my time last week fixing broken links I thought it would be a good idea to put together a post about how broken links happen and what you can do to help your website remain as clean as possible.

So while broken links do not affect your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) they do impact on visitor usability, how many times have you landed on a website to receive the dreaded 404 page? Do you really spend the time trying to find what you wanted or would you just hop off and try another site? Personally I hop to another site after all if the company can’t be bothered to maintain their own website ¬†they’re not likely to look after their customers, right?

So broken links (404 pages) happen to every website normally after:

  1. You completely revamp a website
  2. You change content on your existing website by removing things

Both of these activities are likely to end in broken links, because its difficult to remember all the places in the web you have built links, so what can you do?

Your first job is to find the links, webmaster tools will help you understand the list that you need to work on, or you can use one of these free online tools

For wordpress websites, the easiest thing to do is to install a plugin which will enable you to complete a 301 redirect. A 301 redirect is quite simply a way of telling the search engines that a particular url should be permanently redirected to another. So as an example if we had a page that we called www.jckmarketing.co.uk/seo and we replaced it with another page we called www.jckmarketing.co.uk/search-engine-optimisation a 301 redirect would ensure that all links that ended /seo would land on /search-engine-optimisation

Think of it like telling the post office when you change your address, they forward your post, it’s that easy.

So the plugin we use is called Simple 301, which you can find here, when you change a url you simply copy and paste the old and new url in and the plugin does the rest for you. If you have multiple urls then there is also a bulkuploader which comes in quite handy.

So remember, if you move anything, remove pages, or change your website – watch out for those broken links and fix them..