Hyperlinks help web visitors easily travel from Point A to Point B online; for a web designer, or business owner, they also help drive traffic to visit your website. However, if these links are broken, or go nowhere, that traffic is lost forever.
And, from a user standpoint, clicking on a link that doesn’t work is just plain frustrating!
In order to create a good user experience, plus make use of ALL of the potential traffic coming to your website, it is a good idea to do regular maintenance on both your internal links and those pointing to your site from elsewhere (your backlinks).
Luckily, you don’t need to invest a lot of time in this task, if you use the right tools:
Broken Link Checker. Broken Link Checker is a free plugin for WordPress that notifies you of links on your site that don’t work. Notification is both via email and a notice on the WordPress Dashboard. I’ve been using this plugin for several years now and have been surprised at the number of broken links that it has found for me, mostly pointing to external content that was moved or deleted.
Smart 404. When a mistakes occurs while someone is typing in the address to one of your blog posts, that visitor will not successfully reach your blog; instead, they will likely receive what’s known as a “404 error.” Use Smart 404 and the plugin will “guess” where the visitor was going by matching keywords in the query to keywords in your blog. You can see it in action by typing conversation2sales.com/panda in your search bar. You’ll be taken to the correct blog post even though you didn’t type in the entire correct url.
Crawl Error Reports. You want links from outside sources to work as much as possible, even though you aren’t the one creating the links. Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools both create reports of crawl errors that were discovered when their bots crawled your site (and others on the web). Check the Linked From tab to see where the link originated. Correct any links that originate on your site. For links originating outside of your site, use a 301 redirect or the Redirection plugin to create a forward from the incorrect url to the correct one on your site.
Keeping all of the links to, and from, your site working properly helps improve the visitor experience for all who visit your site. For this reason alone, it’s worth a few minutes of your time to install a few plugins and then check your webmaster reports occasionally. But maintaining your links also helps you to preserve ALL of the hard-earned traffic that you have flowing to your site, which means that every website owner should make this a priority.