The 404 error page is one of the most annoying things online. It is bad for search engine ranking, and gives the website a bad reputation as far as user experience is concerned. There are many tools and websites which can help webmasters find and fix broken links on their WebPages and blogs. For instance, the WordPress broken link checker plugin works well for WordPress. There are numerous other online link checker websites available.
However, for those who have and old blog on WordPress, they might find the link checker plugin to be memory hogging, slowing down the system and possible taking down the blog altogether. Online link checker tools are also limited to a certain number of pages and links, and might not be appropriate for large websites. Those on large websites looking for something better, look no further than integrity.
Xenu link sleuth is another useful link checking tool. It is a windows only tool, the counter to the Mac only integrity. It is one of a few that crawls the whole website and returns information on a list of broken links as well as many other tidbits. It also shows the pages that point to the broken links and is relatively easy to use. After installation, one simply needs to enter the domain they wish to check, enter the parameters or the links they would like the software to skip and let it work. After it is finished crawling, the problematic links will appear in red. Right clicking on them will show the pages linking to the broken links.
A software that is both Mac and Windows compatible is the ScreamingFrog Spider tool. It is relatively simple and cheap, but is packed with many more features than the simple link checking offered by most other tools. To use it to check links, follow the following steps;
- List all URLs: using either a txt or csv file, get the full list of all the URLs to be checked. Make sure to list them in full, including the http://
- Open the SEO spider tool and on the top toolbar, click on the mode and select file. Navigate to where the file is stored and upload it onto the ScreamingFrog Spider tool. The file reader will then indicate the number of URLs found on the file.
- The fourth step is to configure the source code filter according to preferences, choosing whatever column is appropriate and select OK.
- The fifth step is to click on a select a chosen filter from the custom tab and start the crawling
- After the crawling is complete, any broken links will appear on the results list and one can then follow up on them.
Click here for the full Screaming Frog review.
Integrity is a free Mac app that works perfectly with large websites without the disadvantage of slowing them down. It checks for both internal and external links, and also does the same for broken images. Users will find integrity particularly useful because of the settings through which webmasters can control the crawling and such things as the number of threads. Integrity also exports reports in pdf format.
To get started, simply download the app and install it. After installation, open the app and add the domain URL. After adding the settings, select ignore query strings and trailing slashes. Selecting ignore query strings helps avoid crawling URL parameters. Whitelist and blacklist rules can also help ignore crawling and the checking of particular directories on one’s website. After finishing the settings, click on go and the app will begin checking the website for any broken links.
Depending on the size of the website, the tool might end up taking several hours to complete the search. There are several options available to the user after the check is complete. One can sort the results or only check the bad links by choosing that option on the report page. Perhaps the most ideal method is the by page option, as this helps the user get rid of broken links on particular pages.
This is perhaps one of the better tools for finding and fixing broken links, especially for large websites. The only downside is that it is a Mac only application. Integrity is particularly useful considering the fact that fixing broken links is a huge part of the recovery process when if one’s website or blog is penalized by panda.
For those who have huge WordPress blogs, the process might be a little tedious considering the need to edit all posts, pages and comments. Even those links in the comments are part of the page, and must be eradicated. A useful tip is to start with the fixing of all internal links, followed by the external ones. After running the integrity tool, find a broken link and use the search form to search for such comments. Simply click on x to remove these links. This is particularly useful for blogs that have thousands of comments, many with broken links.
Broken links are a lost opportunity, and given the difficulty WordPress users have with such tools as integrity, it is only right that a WordPress plugin be created to help check and monitor broken links. The WordPress Broken Link Checker Plugin monitors blogs and looks for broken links, always letting the user know when they are found. The features of the broken link checker plugin are as follows;
- It monitors links in posts, pages, the blog roll, comments and even in custom fields
- It can detect redirects, missing images and any links that do not work
- It notifies the blogger either through direct email or on the dashboard
- It can be set to display broken links differently in posts
- It can also prevent search engines from following broken links
- One can edit their links directly from the plug-in page, without necessarily updating every post manually
- It is highly configurable, and one can search for links by the anchor text, URL and so on
After the installation of the plugin, it will keep parsing posts, bookmarks and other content searching for any broken links. The time this takes will generally depend on the size of the site and content. After the parsing, the plugin begins to check every single link to confirm if it works. Again, the duration will depend on the blog size, but the progress can be checked under the link checker tab on the settings.
If any broken links are found, they show up on the WP admin panel under the broken link tab on tools. A notification will typically appear in the Broken Link Checker widget on the dashboard. The broken links tab will display links that have been detected to be broken. There are several actions one can take with each link.
- Edit URL enables the user to change that link’s URL
- Unlink can remove the link but leaves the content intact
- Not broken is a tool that lets one mark a broken link as working. It is useful when one knows the link was wrongly detected
- The dismiss action hides the link from the redirects and broken links view
- Clicking on the status or link text columns shows more information about the status of each link.
There are many other online link checking tools available. An example is the Google webmaster tool. It is a completely free tool from Google, whose features go above and beyond the checking of broken links. In the crawl errors section, one can be able to understand exactly how Google indexes or crawls their website. When checking for errors, Google splits them into sitemap related errors, those that are restricted by robots.txt and those not found.
The Check My Links plugin is another alternative. Another free tool, one has to install chrome to be able to access and use it. However, unlike the other tools, it only checks the page one is viewing at the given moment. It does highlight areas of the page red or green to show errors or issues. This chrome extension is ideal for content developers, editors and web designers.
Other free online broken link checker tools include the Dead Link Checker and Broken Link Check, which crawls the site thoroughly to look for any broken links affecting the site. It has two options, the multi-check and auto check. Multi-check looks at multiple sites while auto check checks sites automatically on a regular interval.