One Link Goes Out, They All Go Out!

This is an entry in our daily Internet Marketing Advent Calendar series. Each day your favorite marketing elves will focus on a new topic to get your internet marketing in order before the start of the new year.

Have you heard the song “The Twelve Pains of Christmas”? The whole song cracks me up, especially the part about “rigging up the lights… one light goes out, they all go out!” Lucky for me every strand of lights I pulled out this year worked perfectly (couldn’t say the same for my orange Halloween lights, but that was another season…). Each bulb on a strand of lights is important to the whole string functioning, just like how each link on your website needs to work to keep your site going!

Tangled Lights
Photo Credit: Son of Groucho

Checking Each Link

When a light goes out on a strand, I always try to replace bulbs to find the culprit. There are even those light checkers that never seem to work for me. Lucky for us, in the web world there are tools that check links for you. W3C (the same people that provide you with the validation tool I talked about earlier this week) provides a link checker that will trace all links on your site and provide a report on any broken links. Google Webmaster Tools is another way to check for broken links. Both will show you what page the broken link is on and where it is trying to link to.

Test Each Link First

Before putting up my lights I make sure to test each strand so that I don’t realize they are broken after the fact (even though sometimes they decide to not work later on anyways…). You want to test all your links before putting them on your website as well. If you are linking something in your content, copy the exact url while on the page, and then test it again once it is up on the site. You also want to test links periodically, especially if you add new pages often or are linking to other websites. Sometimes these other websites change their urls and content. Checking up will ensure that the links still work and that the content is still relevant.

Just as you don’t want there to be a group of broken lights on your house, you want to make sure there are no broken links on your site. People will get frustrated and confused when clicking on a link that does not work. Unlike a strand of lights, if one link is broken that doesn’t necessarily mean that everything else won’t work. However if a broken link is in the navigation or somewhere else that is important, then visitors will not be able to get where they need to and will leave. This could even prevent them from taking action when they want to. So make sure to check your links to avoid frustration this holiday season, as well as throughout the year!

Read the rest of the Internet Marketing Advent Calendar