Even the best-designed and built websites will require upkeep. In addition to security and content updates, your community should regularly check your website(s) for broken links. A broken link results when something on your website points to a file that doesn’t exist at the specified location, and is most often the result of a file (or webpage) being moved, renamed, or deleted. Broken links are frustrating for your users and hurt your website’s search-engine ranking, making your website more difficult to find. For these reasons, the CRS requires that communities check for broken links and fix them at least monthly.
While there is no automatic way to repair all broken links as they appear, there are relatively easy ways to find them so they can be repaired. Note that to repair broken links, you’ll need to identify where “fixed” links should point – unless your webmaster is also knowledgable about floodplain management, he or she may need assistance identifying good resources to redirect your broken links to.
How to find broken links on your site:
- You can manually click on each link on each page of your website, checking to make sure that they link to the pages you intended.
- You can use an online tool to scan your pages for broken links. A popular one run by the non-profit organization responsible for the general architecture of the Internet (The World Wide Web Consortium) offers a free scanning service. Users simply enter the URL of the page they wish to scan, and hit the “check” button. After a few seconds (or longer, depending on the size of the page and the load on the servers), the website returns a list of any problems. You can access their “Link Checker” website here: http://validator.w3.org/checklink.
- You can download a program that will scan your website (do an Internet search for “broken link software”).
- Depending on the software your website is built on, there may be “plugins” you can add that will automatically scan your website and alert you of any broken links. Ask your webmaster if this is an option.
The process for fixing links will vary from system to system. Again, see your webmaster.