August 31, 2011

Broken Links

Recently I was asked to do some seo work as part of a larger marketing campaign, including email, social media and possibly part of a redesign. Over the course of a few hours of work i noticed i had some broken links to deal with. How do you find broken links and can you deal with them? Fortunately there are many tools or even subscription services ( such as ) which may help. I like to use Link Sleuth from Xenu which is fast and well priced ( free). You get a lot more than you pay for.

In this case after i ran the tool ( it runs from the desktop) I uncovered a complete set of broken links that were pretty much all the same type - the server was missing include files, which should be relatively easy to fix. And who is responsible for fixing broken links? Wouldn't you suspect it is the web builder and not the SEO person in the project? Well yes you would suspect correctly...

Firstly the report showed broken links, and the report is not dependent on any sitemaps or any third part xml code. But in this case there was a sort of denial aspect to the report, with the web designer saying it is a faulty sitemap, and whoever is doing the seo should be doing the sitemap. Agreed that there should be a revised sitemap every now and again. In this case the report showed files back six months that have broken links, and so these have been there in their galaxy far far long ago, waaay before seo guy (me)...

Anyway the report was submitted, and since there is this democratic process to the project, I will await further orders before tackling a fix. But its just important to note that when  you are involved in any SEO looking at broken links is a good thing, whether or not you end up tackling the fix.

By the way, after I noticed the links i tested whether or not they were actually broken, not doubting that i would be surprised - that the report would be faulty itself, reporting a link broken when it wasn't. This report on another site actually uncovered some fat finger mistakes someone had made in writing the anchors to images or other files - where the fat finger had written <a href=./"filename instead of <a href="./filename etc... Actually that mistake looks like a global replacement had been made with an incorrect search term, and ending up forgetting about the left quote placement into the right location.

Because those types of errors are hard to see, it is a good idea to check your work using the broken link checker, even though you don't suspect anything such as a missing filename. It will find those hard to spot errors in  your anchor code.



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