As per my promise from last week’s post (catch up here – it’s all about how commenting on blogs can be harmful to literally everyone involved!) today is all about those pesky broken links on your blog, how to find them, how to fix them – and whether to actually bother with them at all!
When does a link break or die so to speak?
✖️ When you delete a blog post
✖️ When you update a blog post (see how to effectively do that here on Fee’s blog)
✖️ When you change a blog post’s URL
✖️ Product links to products that become sold out, the products are taken off the supplier’s website
✖️ When a company you’ve linked to goes bust or disappears off the face of the Earth
✖️ Anything you linked to disappears from the web (another blogger deletes a post off their blog, an article from certain publication gets deleted or updated etc)
✖️ When someone comments on your blog post leaving a link & then deletes the post they had linked to
✖️ When someone comments on your blog post leaving a link & then deletes their whole blog
What types of broken links are there?
⚠️ Your very own permalinks: These are the links that used to exist on your blog but for one reason or another don’t anymore. You may have deleted the post, updated the URL – it’s the ones that start with www.your-blog.com/XXXX. Once you publish something on your blog its imprint will always stay somewhere on the internet. Something somewhere has crawled it, someone may have linked to it, Google may have fetched an image from it… once it’s out there it will always stay out there.
⚠️ Links within posts: These are the links that you have included within your posts. They might be product links, links to fellow bloggers, links to other blog posts on your own blog. They can also be affiliate links you’ve placed on your blog.
⚠️ Links in the comments: The worst ones of all. The links placed on your blog by other people, usually bloggers who then delete their posts, change the URLs or completely disappear to the black hole of dead blogs.
How to fix TYPE 1:
First of all get your pretty little butt onto Google Webmaster Tools. You will first have to register via the Search Console (read how to do that here). Which will then allow you to get to your GWT. Now Crawl Errors & try not to fall off your chair. The links that show up as Not Found or Error on your desktop tab are the ones we need to sort out. If this is the first time you’re doing this then there will be loads. And by loads I mean hundreds if you’ve been blogging for a few odd years.
Open a new tab in your browser and go to your Blogger Dashboard – Settings – Search Preferences. You see Customer Redirects? That’s the one. Edit and add a New Redirect.
This is where you will open your broken links one by one, copy & paste the bit after the forward slash just after your blog domain into From in your New Redirect and then put your new destination under To. If you’re struggling to find another destination (a similar topic, an updated post) then you can always resort to linking to the homepage (that would be just a plain forward slash). Just like below.
SAVE – BOOM!
Now go back to GWT & click FIXED. Once you’ve done all your links this way don’t forget to pop into Fetch as Google & re-crawl your blog. This will give Google a kick to double check your blog because you’ve made some significant link changes to it.
How to fix TYPE 2:
I find this one to be a much bigger pain in the butt. To find these links I’m using this tool. It’s a little old school but it does the job. It will find all broken links within your blog. Again – if you’ve been blogging for a while and have never done this you better hold on tight now – there will be a few bucketfuls of broken links.
The pain with these is that you have to update them manually. They can be broken products links – this means finding alternative products, different suppliers – and ultimately you will be updating the blog post itself. It’s really worth doing this on a regular basis. Even keep the track of products you’re mentioning via tools such as Shoptagr (read more here).
How to fix TYPE 3:
Broken links in the comments are the bane of my life. They usually come up when checking for Type 2. However it’s worth reading this post on how your comments can affect you and your favourite blogger. Recently I’ve found so many dead blog links within my comments it’s unreal. Why why why.
Why you MUST sort out the bloody broken links right now?
✔️ Your readers’ experience – when they REALLY want that handbag you’ve linked to but the page pops up with 404 error. Argh!
✔️ Affiliate links can be a decent source of income – guess how much they’ll make if the product links are dead though.
✔️ Broken permalinks can result in lost traffic. When someone clicks on a Pin on Pinterest or a Google image and gets a 404 error there is little chance that they will carry on browsing your blog.
✔️ And a high bounce rate (people spending little time on your blog) impacts your Google ranking – it’s one vicious circle!
✔️ Keeping your broken links at bay improves your SEO and overall quality/ranking in the eyes of Google
✔️ It also allows your blog to be crawled by various search engine spiders (a high amount of broken links can halt them to stop!)