AskPat 326 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to episode 326 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. As always, I'm here to help you by answering your online business questions, five days a week.
All right, now let's get to today's question from Nathan. Here we go.
Nathan: Hey, Pat. It’s Nathan from MinneapolisRunning.com. I have a question for you about finding and fixing broken links. I'm finding that both internal links on my site, as well as external links, things that I've linked to, are broken. Not all of them, just some here and there. I'm wondering if you know of a quick and/or easy way to fix those. I'm finding that some of the stuff I've linked to maybe a couple years ago, other people have changed their URLs or that stuff is no loner there. I'm just wondering if there's a way to fix all that without having to go through post by post. Thanks so much. I appreciate your wisdom.
Pat Flynn: Nathan, what's up? Thank you so much for the question today. And, first of all, your mic sounds amazing. I'm guessing you have a podcast or just some really good equipment. Whatever it is, thank you for calling in. But it's okay, you don't have to have great equipment to call in and ask a question. Again, you can ask your question over at AskPat.com if you have a question.
And Nathan, I really appreciate yours because this is something that a lot of people come across, especially those of us who have been doing this for awhile, because you will link to things and you will link to your own stuff. Those are called internal links. You will link to other people's stuff, and those are called external links. Oftentimes links change or people's websites go down or they change domain names, and that link that you have on your website isn't going to link anymore.
You might not think that it matters, but it does. It matters for a few reasons. Yes, Google and SEO, if they see a broken link in too many of them, they're going to discount the authority on your site. That's not going to happen too much, but it does play a small role in that. In addition to that, it's going to ruin the user experience. If people come across an old post of yours and they want to click on a link to another link you have on a site, or to a link on somebody else's site that may have disappeared. When they click on that and it's not there, even if it's your own site, it's going to be a bad user experience for them and you definitely don't want that to happen.
You could, like you said Nathan, go through each post one by one and click on links just to make sure they're still working. And you might want to do that every few months. That would be crazy because that's a lot of work, especially if you're at the point where you have things breaking, which means you'd probably be blogging for quite a while and linking to things for quite some time.
The best and easiest way to do this is if you have WordPress set up, which most of you who are in my audience do, which is great. You can install a plugin. It's very simple. It's called Broken Link Checker. Again, that's called Broken Link Checker. It's free. You can just look it up in your WordPress plugin repository if you go into the back end of your WordPress site. Look up plugins, add new, and then you can search for a plugin called Broken Link Checker.
Once that's running, it'll check your system every however many days you tell it to. I often have it check every seven days. You can have it check to see and run through all the links on your website to see if there are any broken links. Then you can set rules for it to do certain things with those links. You can have it fill out a report that gets sent to you, which I would recommend. It's always nice, but also scary, to see that every week I have certain links that are broken. And again, most of them are not my own, but links that other people have closed down or other sites that have gone away or if they've changed their domain or whatever the case may be. It's usually from other sites.
Again, this is important because this is stuff that you couldn't necessarily control by yourself. But, you can use this tool to keep track, and then you can have it even automate the process of fixing those links for you. There's a lot of different things you can do. The number one way to go about it is just to say, hey, don't make those links anymore. Then those will get rid of all the links on those sites and those links won't become links anymore, or just regular text that's not hyperlinked.
That's the easiest way to go about it. A lot of times also, you'll find that these broken links come in the comment section of blogs, because people comment with their own blogs and they might be commenting with certain niche sites or whatever. They often die or are not there anymore or they just quit blogging and their links don't work. That's where a lot of the broken links come from, and that's an easy way to quickly discount those links and just make them not found by Google and just make them regular words where you don't have to worry about it anymore and people aren't going to be tempted to click on those because they aren't links anymore. There's a lot of other things you can do, but that's basically what you might want to try out.
Now, if you do want to fix the links, it's really cool because they give you a little dashboard where you can see all the links that are messed up or not working and you can change the links of them. So if you do know, maybe that person's link that doesn't work anymore had changed their links or changed their route domain, you can change it manually from there if you'd like. Actually it's probably more useful for your own stuff if you know you've changed stuff and you find there's a broken link, you can redirect it to exactly where it should go. So the links can be edited directly from the plug-in's page without manually updating each post, which is really cool.
You can also just have it set to prevent search engines from following broken links. That's an option. You can make broken links display differently in posts as well, and again it notifies you when there are broken links, whether you are checking on the dashboard, or you can even have it sent to you via email.
So that's the quick and nerdy answer, and that's definitely the best way to go. So again, that is a WordPress plugin called Broken Link Checker. There are over 400-plus active installs and it is updated to the latest version. It was last updated three days ago from the time of this recording, so the author of the plugin, Janice Elsts. She's doing a good job keeping it up to date, and helping a lot of people out.
So again, Broken Link Checker. Nathan, thank you so much for calling in today. I hope that's helpful for you and for everyone else out there. Thank you again for calling in, and as a result of having your question featured here on the show, we're going to send you an AskPat t-shirt, so you'll hear from an assistant of mine very, very soon, within the next week or two, to get that information to send that to you free of charge.
For those of you listening, if you have question you'd like potentially featured here on the show, just head on over to AskPat and you can ask right there on that page thanks to the Speakpipe.com widget. Speakpipe allows me to capture these voicemails that allow me to put them in this particular post here, or in this audio file.
Thanks again for listening again. I look forward to serving you in tomorrow's episode of AskPat. But before we finish up, as always, we like to end with a quote. Today's quote is from Tony Sorenson. “Change doesn't come in nickel and dimes, it comes in dedication and sweat.”
Cheers, take care, and I'll see you in tomorrow's episode of AskPat. Thanks guys.