If Google were a person, this is what it would think when it encountered a dead link on your website: “Oh, this person does not care about himself. He just let himself go! So sad!” Or, “Uh-oh, this person expects me to read this content and complete a call to action but doesn’t put in the effort to make sure her links work? I don’t think so!” Or, perhaps, “Dead links? I’d better get outta here fast!” In any case, it’s not great news for your website, your ranking, or your chance at repeat visitors! Checking your site for dead links is a task that should become part of your routine maintenance schedule.
You could go page by page and test each link manually. This becomes quite a task when you’ve got several thousand or even hundreds of thousands of pages to look through. As with most jobs, there are a few ways to accomplish this:
- Sign into your account and navigate to Diagnostics, from the left menu. From there, clic on Crawl Errors > Not Found. You’ll see a list of links that are “not found.”
- View which pages have broken links.
- Copy and paste the URL into Google and see if a live result turns up.
- Navigate to Site Configuration> Crawl Access>Remove URL.
- Click on New Removal Request and choose to remove your page from Google’s results. You can also choose to retain the page but remove cached versions (which have the dead link).
- Enter the URL of the page you want to remove. Then click Add.
- Select Submit Removal Request.
- To make sure you’ve removed the URLs, you can go back into Webmaster’s Crawl Access and check.
Another option is to try a plugin that detects and removes dead links. These are especially helpful for those running WordPress sites. The aptly named Broken Link Checker for WordPress, for instance, monitors links, detects broken links, notifies you, prevents search engines from following broken links, and allows you to edit links from the plugin’s page rather than manually update each post with a dead link. This will save you some time, that’s for certain.
You can also find sites online that can check and remove bad links. Screaming Frog is a prime example – and it has a host of features in addition. Other good ones include Xenu Link Sleuth, and Link Checker from Submit Express. You simply enter the URL of the pages you want to look at, and these services will do the checking for you. Be careful to choose a reputable site, which often offer other services. Many are free for basic features and have an advanced suite for premium members.
Check your site for dead links; it will enhance your user experience and make you look better in the judgmental eyes of Google!