I have accidentally found out few broken text links and image links in one of my websites and applied a funny experiment (to identify deleted images) which I felt like sharing here …. ! Before that, you should understand the importance of knowing the details of broken links in your website and acknowledge the fact that rectifying them is one of the factors that can prevent your website/ blog from the eyes of Google Panda Update. See this for : What are Google Panda Updates.
How to find out Broken links (404 Errors) in WordPress
The Best and the easiest way to identify broken links is by using a simple and very commonly used plugin “Broken Link Checker” (BLC). All you need to do is to just activate the plugin and wait for the plugin to list the broken links. It will take few hours for that depending on the size of the website.
Then you can go to the “tools” section in your wordpress dashboard and check for the broken links count which is listed by the plugin. Here is how it looks ..
In the above Image if you see under the Right side arrow : you can see the following options -
- Edit url – This is the best option which i recommend and you must update the link by providing the perfectly working URL.
- Fix url redirects – This is very interesting option in a condition when your articles are interlinked with an old permalink, and thus it helps in redirecting those to a new URL with a single click.
- Mark as not broken
- Unlink – Try to avoid this option and make sure you always update the url by editing it.
- Move sources to thrash
I have large number of 404 Errors what should I do next ?
If you have got a huge number of 404 errors (broken links) and if you are unable to clear them in a single day, then you can see the above picture – “see the pointer of the left cursor” ; there you can see the settings option and click on that. You will see the following options.
You should tick the option “Stop search engines from following broken links” which is very important for people who are not able to get rid of links in a short period of time.
But there is also a disadvantage if you keep this plugin activated all the time, as it can add a lot of tables in your database and thus increase your site’s database size. To avoid this, you can disable the plugin (broken link checker) and add another plugin Wp-Db manager plugin (which helps in removing all the unwanted tables created by BLC and thus aids in opitimizing and repairing the database). So again, if you want to check the broken links, then you can run the plugin (BLC) and update them.
Everything till here is pretty normal and serious, but the funny part is my personal method which I had to devise in order to identify the lost images from my WordPress server.
What happened actually is that I accidentally deleted some of the images from the media section of the wordpress dashboard. Those images are caught by the BLC and then I realised that I should add those images again to make sure that the given articles are meaningful. I immediately went to the Google cache and found that the old cache is updated with the new one .
Then came to my mind – Way-back Machine (web.archive.org) and I searched there also and came to know the bitter news that it will only store the text and for only for a few sites, it will also save the images.
Finally I concluded that I could not get those images back, but also knew that they were highly important because they were tutorial screen shots ;), so I could not have easily re-created them.
Then got a funny idea, and I searched the “phrases” above and below the broken like in my article in google image search. Then I could find my images …. and guess what is the source of the images ?
It’s the sites (plagiarized) sites which normally copy both image and the text. And the reason why I termed this as “funny” is that normally plagarized sites are always a headache for SEOs and webmasters but this is the first time ever which became the only final step to save my article. ! Hope this cheap and funny story didn’t bore you ! Coming to the serious part of getting rid of the broken links (404 errors) will help you in recovering from Google panda Update, at least to some extent :).