One of the most frustrating things on the Internet is when you are reading an article and click on a link which claims to expand on the topic, only to find that it goes to some 404 page – or worse, to a website that no longer exists. If you are a website owner yourself, you might be wondering if there’s a way to detect such broken links.
There is, with a WordPress plugin called Broken Link Checker, which is one of the best WordPress plugins in its category and far easier than the command line method.
About The Plugin
Broken Link Checker is actively developed by prolific WordPress plugin developer Janis Elsts. You can find the plugin in the official WordPress Plugin Directory, or on its webpage.
Installation instructions are included on both the WordPress Plugin Directory page, as well as the plugin’s website. However, if you search “Broken Link Checker” from the Plugins page in your Dashboard, WordPress can install the plugins without any downloading and uploading. Simply click or hover over “Plugins” and click “Add New”, then type the plugin’s name in the search box. It should be the first result, but to verify that it’s this one, look for “Janis Elsts” as the developer.
The plugin is available in an impressive number of languages, currently 27.
Customization And Features
NOTE: Don’t let these customizations and features overwhelm you. For the most users, Broken Link Checker works great without needing any changes. Should you want additional functionality, though, the settings are very simple to understand.
Besides excellent and accessible support, what makes a WordPress plugin desirable is features and customization – both of which Broken Link Checker offers. You wouldn’t really think this plugin would really need to be either of those, but once you see its features and options, it’s very apparent how necessary they really are. Here’s a summary:
- Detect broken links, missing images, redirects, and deleted videos from hosting platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo and others
- Monitors links in posts, pages, comments, custom fields and blogroll
- New/modified entries are checked as soon as possible
- Problem notifications via WordPress Dashboard widget and/or email
- Edit all instances of the a specific link at once
- View, search and filter a cumulative list of all the site links
- Apply custom CSS to broken and removed links
- Edit links directly in the plugin’s page without needing to update each post/page
- Make broken links display differently in posts
- Prevent search engines from following broken links
You can access the settings from the WordPress sidebar under “Settings” and “Link Checker” (pictured above). The first tab, “General”, displays broken link status, a space to change how often each link should be checked, email notification settings and various other options – including some optional link tweaks mentioned in the features above.
The “Look For Links In” offers what it implies, and has simple check boxes. But should you want more advanced control for custom fields, you can enter HTML code into the text box upon clicking “Configure”.
The next tab, titled “Which Links To Check”, gives you the option to choose… well… what links to check. This isn’t solely for links, but also HTML images, videos from various video-hosting platforms like YouTube, Megavideo, DailyMotion, Vimeo and others. There’s also a text field that you can exclude some links.
“Protocols & APIs” lists different APIs to use to check the links – simply check or uncheck the boxes.
Lastly, the “Advanced” tab has some more useful features. I wouldn’t necessarily consider these “advanced”, but rather a compilation of various miscellaneous, yet still necessary settings. These features include an option to adjust the link timeout, a couple options to control how the link monitor operates, dashboard widget visibility options, a manual force recheck button and a couple other options that are a tad more advanced like “max execution time” and “server load limit”.
Again, don’t get overwhelmed by these if you don’t immediately understand a feature. Like I said previously, the plugin works great without any customization options at all. Additionally, all features also have a description, so read that and you won’t be blindly adjusting how the plugin operates,
Finding Those Broken Links
There are a couple places that you will see that there are some broken links. The most obvious place will probably be on the Dashboard widget (or through email notification if you have that set up).
The second place location, which has more options, is located under Tools > Broken Links. If there are any that are broken, the number will be displayed next to the text.
From this page, you can view all the information associated with the broken links. You can also change them, without needing to go to each post or page.
Your Thoughts And Comments
Now we turn to you – have you used this plugin? Do you have any advice or tips to share? Or perhaps you have another great WordPress plugin to recommend – whatever it may be, we want to hear from you in the comments.