Finding Broken Links
Link rot is a fact of life, but all hope is not lost. Broken links and missing media are both easy-to-locate problems when assisted by a web crawler such as InterroBot. Once located, the solution is often, but not always as easy.
Locating the Broken Resources
From the project's search page, there are two canned searches, the buttons Client Errors and Server Errors located under the search form. These results are the easiest way to filter down to fundamental health issues with your web content.
Client Errors filters to client HTTP errors (400-451). While 404 Not Found errors tend to dominate the results, 403 Forbidden and 400 Bad Request (often poorly pasted/keyed links) are regulars.
Server Errors filters to server HTTP errors (500-511+). These include the dreaded 500 Internal Server Error, with canonical and custom error codes dealing with timeouts, SSL certificate failures, and more.
In all but a handful of cases, these HTTP error responses are not what your users expected. On their end, the experience is that of a "bad link." Search engines look disapprovingly at such a state of affairs.
The fix? Well, that's up to you. Here are some common approaches.
- Fix the web server/application
- If a server error, and it's on your site
- If the problem is widespread due to a webpage template/theme
- Bring the content back online
- If it was misplaced/unpublished/what-have-you
- Add a HTTP redirect, forwarding to similar content
- If you are an SEO maximalist
- Unlink the webpages generating errors on the inbound links side
- If the content shouldn't be linked in the first place
- If the page is intentionally retired (also consider 410 Gone)
- If the source of the error is external/outside of your control
- Find a suitable replacement URL on the inbound links side
- If link preservation is important
- If page content was shuffled in a reorganization
- Check archive.org's Wayback Machine for an old snapshot
Locating References to the Broken Resource
The pages under Inlinks will contain the href/src attributes that need fixing, assuming the linked reference isn't coming back.