As you may or may not have noticed, we launched a completely re-designed site last month. As the guy who wrote much of the content for our last site, I was well aware of the amount of pages we had. What I didn’t realize was how much work it would be to re-write much of that content for our new site. It was a ton of work (and well worth it), but my job didn’t end there.
As much as we double checked and tripled checked the site, it still had broken links. Not that I expect the creators of Xenu Link Sleuth to read this, but I just want to say “thank you”. I find this tool invaluable. To state the obvious, broken links are not good. They’re bad for user experience and you’re missing out on golden opportunities to pass link juice internally. Instead of checking every link on our site individually, Xen Link Sleuth did all the leg work and told me which links were broken. I was even able to use it before the site went live so we didn’t have broken links on the site once we launched it.
Xenu Link Sleuth is great for internal links, but what about those links from external sites? Like I said, we had a lot of pages on our old site and I wasn’t able to re-create them all in time for the site launch. This is where another tool was very helpful; Google Webmaster Tools. You’ll find a Crawl Errors tool that will show your pages external sites are linking to that don’t exist. You’ll definitely want to take a look at this report because external links can certainly improve your search engine rankings. Obviously these sites already like you and want to link to you, so why not let them? Google lists the crawl errors from highest priority to lowest, so I suggest working your way from top to bottom of the list.
There’s a number of things you can do to correct these crawl errors. You can contact the site owners who are incorrectly linking to you and ask them to correct the link. You can forward the broken link to the correct link. If it’s a page that you were going to eventually replace anyway (as is our case), you can add a page there. Also it doesn’t hurt to just ignore the error if it’s an obsolete page.