How to Check for Broken Links on Your Website

The’404 Not Found’ error isn’t just irritating for users; it is even dreaded by webmasters and bloggers alike. It is extremely important for a website owner to check for broken links before some users do, which leads them to nowhere and a bad experience, besides the search engine crawlers finding them, which can even lead to site-wide penalties.

So all said and done, it is a pretty serious problem for all parties involved. And, you don’t want all the hard work done on your website to be overshadowed by some silly broken links, right?

How to Check For Broken Links ?

First, you need to understand the actual problem, and then the severity of the issue will present itself. A broken link is also known as a ‘dead link.’ It could be a result of a few reasons, as an incorrect URL, the destination link has been removed after you originally added it, the destination website only no longer exists, and even cases where a website is behind a firewall that does not allow outside access. Getting to the reasons comes only after identifying the broken links in the first place.

Now, the real problem being, checking for all such broken links manually, on a regular basis isn’t possible. Fret not, where there is a problem, there always lies a solution. There do exist some ways in which this task can be achieved in a much simpler and faster way. And, it’s all been documented here just for your convenience. You’d rather be spending your valuable time designing your blog, adding features, and most importantly adding new, fresh, and useful content, rather than being busy on repair work.

So, take your pick from these different tools that have been listed and explained here, which can be used to find broken links on your website, and save you a lot of headache and hassle.

Google Analytics

This tool not only helps track a website’s performance but also assists in tracking down broken links. Log into your Google Analytics account, and set the period for the check, if need be. Go to ‘Content by Title’ on the dashboard, and create a filter thereby keying in your website’s 404-page error title. Once this is done, click ‘Go’ on the filter page. Now, you will be able to click on each page title and view specific details. You can also choose to get email alerts on broken links, which would be of great help.

Xenu Link Sleuth

This is another great free link testing tool which can be easily downloaded from the Internet. Besides, it is extremely simple to operate. Once installed, go to ‘File’ and ‘Check URL,’ and key in the domain of your website. Now, just click ‘OK’ and let the tool do the complete analysis for you. Couldn’t get any simpler for you, right? This amazing tool will scan your entire website, not just for broken links, but also scripts, images, backgrounds, missing ALT text, duplicate content, and what not. Just what you needed, hey! Here’s where you can download this must-have tool. Go to Xenu Link Sleuth.

Broken Link Checker

This one is a plugin meant for WordPress. Besides, to check for broken links, it also monitors comments. You can get notifications through your WordPress dashboard, or even via emails. A pretty simple solution for all you WordPress users. Once downloaded, Broken Link Checker will immediately begin parsing your posts; this make take from a few minutes to an hour or so, depending on the size of your website. It also lets you carry our other actions like fix link, unlink, and even dismiss the alert, besides others.

W3C Link Checker

Use the W3C Link Checker tool to check for broken links and let it work wonders for you. Besides its basic task of searching for broken links, it will also give you recommendations for your pages, depending on what it finds. Oh wait, that also means you would need to set where and how this tool searches. You wouldn’t want it checking unnecessary elements and increasing your analysis in the end. Beats the purpose, one would say.

Screaming Frog

OK, Mac users need not feel left out here. You have Screaming Frog to your rescue. This software can be used free for small websites but is pretty cheap for bigger website owners too. And again, besides just to check for broken links on your website, it can also do other stuff like scan duplicate pages, extra long titles, pages without headings, besides some more add-ons. Screaming Frog SEO Spider also allows you to export important SEO elements to an Excel sheet. Extremely useful, one would think!

Google Chrome Page Checking Plugin

Let’s take this one as a ‘bonus’ tool. Why? Because it isn’t as great as the ones mentioned above, but nevertheless worth a try. If you are an avid Google Chrome user, then maybe Google Chrome Page Checking Plugin is something you should try to check for broken links. On Chrome, install this plugin, and you are good to go. The only problem being, it will only alert you about issues on the page you are currently viewing. Which is why, it would be something like a manual check only, and therefore, comes last in our list here.
Remember, a 404 error puts off a user, however, creative your dead-end page might look. And not to forget those search engine crawlers who would penalize your website for all the broken links present. Neglecting the risk of sounding repetitive, don’t forget to run this check on a periodic basis, be it for internal or external links. How and when you use a broken link check tool might just end up saving the day for you.
Summing it all up in just one short sentence – stay away from ‘link rot’ and breathe easy.

About the Author

Pooja loves all things WordPress and thoroughly enjoys coming to work every day. Her team loves her too, though she suspects it is a little to do with the fact that she cooks and bakes yummy goodies for them often.

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