Broken links can have a detrimental impact on the user experience of a WordPress site. When users encounter a broken link, they are presented with a frustrating 404 not-found error message.
There are various reasons why broken links occur on a WordPress website. For instance, a link may become broken if the target page has been modified, relocated, or no longer exists. This resource aims to guide you on effectively addressing broken links in WordPress. You will gain an understanding of what broken links are, their causes, and the proper methods for fixing them on your WP website.
Understanding Broken Links in WordPress
“Broken links” refers to links within a WordPress site that direct users to non-existent pages. For example, if there are two pages, A and B, and Page A links to the non-existent Page B, users will encounter an error message when they click on that link.
Broken links can significantly impact a website beyond just the user experience. They can also negatively affect SEO, as users can’t access valid pages when clicking on broken links. Additionally, broken internal links (links between two pages on the same website) can generate errors in Google Search Console, negatively affecting the site’s rankings on search engine results pages.
Besides user experience and SEO, broken links can impact a site’s indexing on search engines. Once you have fixed broken links on your WordPress site, submitting re-crawl requests to Google can help you resolve broken link issues and improve the overall performance of your website.
Causes of Broken Links
Improper Management of Pages in WordPress
Broken links occur when a page’s URL has been changed in WordPress. Moving a target page from one location to another can create broken links on a WordPress website. While WordPress can automatically handle some broken links by redirecting them, it requires attention when there is no redirection in place.
Sometimes, the permalinks system can fail, making everything except the front page inaccessible. Luckily, restoring the permalinks in this scenario is easy. From WP Admin, go to Settings > Permalinks. Save the default permalink settings that you find, and voila! The permalinks should work again.
Other permalink errors, such as those caused by website migration or hacking, take a little more work to fix.
During website migration, which involves transferring a site from one host to another, issues such as backup restoration, DNS problems, SSL installation, and HTTPS redirection can result in broken links on your WP site.
Hacking incidents can also lead to broken links on a WordPress website. For instance, when manual backdoors are planted, the site’s pages are removed, or the website experiences defacement, broken links can be created. Conducting a malware scan on your site or seeking assistance from WordPress security professionals can help mitigate such issues.
Addressing Broken Links in WordPress – Step by Step
STEP 1 – Identifying Broken Links
Google Search Console is an excellent tool for identifying broken links. If you have configured GSC for your WordPress site, it will show you broken links over time. Logging into GSC and navigating to Indexing > Pages will display a list of broken links on your site. You can export this list for further analysis and action.
STEP 2 – Resolving Broken Links
To fix broken links, you need to edit and update the links in your WordPress content. After obtaining the list of broken links in GSC, click on each link to see if it triggers a 404 Not Found error. Manually making changes can be challenging, so seeking professional assistance may be beneficial.
When updating a broken link, consider the following:
- If the target page is missing, link it to a different but relevant page on your WordPress site.
- If the target page’s URL has changed, configure redirects for the old URL using a WordPress plugin like Redirects. WordPress should automatically set redirects when a user updates a URL for a page or post.
- If a page links to a page that requires login access, ensure you change the target to a relevant, freely accessible page on your site.