There must be nothing worse for a reader on your site than to click on a link, only to find out that it does not work because the website that you are linking has been moved or taken off-line.
If that link was an affiliate link, then it also means that you have lost potential income.
Any yet there are websites out there that regularly take older content off-line.
But how do you find out which links are broken without going through your entire site regularly and trying them all out?
One of the solutions is to use a plug-in called “Broken Links Checker” which is available in the WordPress repository.
Once installed the plug-in periodically scans through all of your posts and pages and checks the links to make sure that they are still working. It then presents you with a list of the problems so that you can change or de-activate the links. At the same time, it shows the links to your readers as crossed out.
You can set how often the links are to be checked. I have set mine to be checked weekly so as not to overload the server too much or appear to be visiting the sites that I link to too often. You can also set the plug-in to notify you and your authors by e-mail when a link becomes broken.
The plug-in can also help you stop spam comments staying on your site, should they get through your spam filter. Since the links in the comments are checked as well, if someone leaves a comment that appears to be valid but then takes their site off-line the link will be registered as broken.
In the advanced section you can define how long the plug-in is allowed to run and how much server load is allowed before it stops. This can stop it slowing your site down or even appearing to block it. I have also de-activated the option to run continuously when the dashboard is open, as that really did make one site almost inaccessible!
I’m pretty sure that the search engines will also take note of the fact that you are cleaning up your broken links, so it’s not just worth doing it for your readers but for your rankings as well.