Fixing Broken Links

Dead links are inevitable as pages are modified, moved or deleted. However, they quickly damage the credibility of your Web site. Webmasters and Editors-in-chief for a site are responsible for monitoring and maintaining their content. They should periodically check for dead links, correcting or removing them as soon as they are discovered.

Legacy System Broken Link Reports

The NCC runs a monthly program which generates a "404 error report" for each Time Sharing System Management System (TSSMS) account. This report lists the "Files not Found" and the referring URL.

These reports can be found at http://www.epa.gov/reports/objects/YourTssms/404_error_reports/ for public access or http://intranet.epa.gov/reports/objects/YourTssms/404_error_reports/ for intranet. For example:
http://www.epa.gov/reports/objects/epapages/404_error_reports/.

EPA also has QA reports for EPA.gov using the Maxamine tool.  These reports can be found at https://maxamine.epa.gov/maxcentral/.  Intranet Look for the link integrity report for your tssms area.

When changing URLs, coordination with external servers which point to those URLs may be required. When moving a page to a new URL, data owners can set up a 301 redirect to automatically redirect requests from the old URL to the new. 

Drupal Web Content Management System Broken Link Reports

In Drupal, links are extracted from your published content and evaluated (by checking the remote sites and evaluating the HTTP response). On the content edit page, all broken links are shown. Broken links specific to your content can be found on your user profile page, as well.

Links inside Drupal (e.g., to content created and managed in this WebCMS) are managed by the Drupal WebCMS. If you properly build your links by using the WYSIWYG editor  Intranet, you'll rarely, if ever, have to worry about broken links to other Drupal WebCMS content. External links are not managed, however, and you must check those.

Run Your Own Link Checker

You can run a link checker that's a browser plug-in (several are available for Chrome and Firefox) to identify broken links to fix.

What do you do with a Broken Link?

As you find broken links you should take the opportunity to evaluate the value of the link. Some options are:

  • Update the link with a new URL and ensure your link text is accurate for any replacement URLs
  • Remove the link because you can't find a working URL
  • Remove the link because its value has lessened. For example: a past conference notice.