It’s a common problem that over time the links you’ve created in older blog posts become out of date, or even worse, dead links. Often the url is simply directed to a new one. This isn’t a problem, but does slow things down for users. I changed the permalink structure on one of my blogs a couple of months ago which left my old posts littered with urls that were still using the old permalink format. In another case I relocated the wordpress blog from the default wordpress folder to the root directory which left some broken links behind.
No one has time to review all the content on their website to make sure that all the links are still live. This is where the wordpress Broken Link Checker plugin can help. The plugin searches your website or blog looking for any broken links and then gives you a list of problematic links it has found. This includes links that are automatically redirecting to another page. It’s perfect to use if you’ve changed your domain name, or altered your permalink structure.
The installation is straightforward and it will work ‘out of the box’, but it’s worth looking through the settings and adjusting them to suit your needs. Here I’ve set it to recheck links every 350 hours because I don’t expect the urls I’ve used to change very often. You can set the plugin to visually modify the appearance of a suspect link in your blog posts if you want to here aswell.
The plugin displays a section on your dashboard with an overview of progress. Here it has scanned and found 1653 unique URLS across all my pages and posts. It starts working its way through that list, depending on how you configured it to run. As you can see, there are 42 URLs currently in the queue, and no broken links have been found yet.
When the plugin finds something, you can access the list via the main dashboard. Otherwise go to Tools -> Broken Links to see everything.
Here you can view the links by category and decide what (if anything) to do about them. You can also see how many links were checked and found to be ok.
Here are errors where I moved a blog out of the default wordpress directory and into the root of the host. There were some links that hadn’t been updated. Conveniently, you can bulk edit a page of links with similar issues.
A simple search/replace of the problematic text fixed any of these errors.
I found the tool easy to use and very effective. I left it running in the background over a few days until I was happy that all the links were up to date. I don’t see a need to leave it running constantly, but running it occasionally will give you confidence that your users won’t be facing a lot of dead links over time.