Links are the indicators of website’s reputation. A website with more incoming links performs better in search engine results than its competitor within the same niche. But ‘linkrot’ ie the presence of huge number of broken links in a website can deter this advantage.
So, what are broken links?
Broken links, dead link or dangling links are the outgoing links in a webpage that are unreachable when clicked. These pages give ‘404 error’ either because they no longer exist or permanently moved to some other location.
Google can also penalize a website if ‘linkrot’ problem is found in it. So its always a good practice to find dead links and remove in time. Also, readers experience for the website is maligned when they click on a link thinking as useful but ultimately finds it unavailable.
Broken links includes unreachable webpages, missing images and embedded videos. Here is one broken link that gives the following error,
Find Broken links in WordPress and non-Wordpress sites for free
1. ‘Broken link checker’ WordPress plugin
The best way to detect dead links in a WordPress site is by using Broken link checker. The WP plugin by Janis Elsts checks for broken links at regular intervals and inform the site admin to take necessary actions.
It can find broken HTML links, images, embedded videos in posts, pages and comments. The plugin also maintains a list of broken links and actions taken by the user. Additionally, it can also detach the broken links and fix redirections.
The plugin is a reputed one and is used by more then 10lac users worldwide. It’s completely safe to use.
Following are the steps to use the plugin, and an overview of how it works,
1. First install the plugin, and activate from the plugin section in the dashboard.
2. By default, the plugin checks for broken links in every 72 hours. However, you can make changes in the settings by going to Settings>Link Checker.
3. Number of broken links will be shown [‘Found 3 broken links’ above]. When you click on them, it’ll show up the webpages that has broken links in it. You can carry out actions to fix the broken links and faulty redirections.
2. XENU: Windows Standalone program
But if you want to do the same using some software then ‘XENU’ is your friend. Its a program for windows that checks each and every webpage of a website indexed in Google and finds out the broken links.
Using the program is simple. Download XENU and install to your windows. Next enter the website name and start finding the faulty links. It’ll check each and every link, all webpages, images, videos in the website and show their status. Healthy links are marked green while broken links are colored red.
You can also modify settings to show only the broken links. Here is how you can use XENU to find dead links,
1. Start XENU, goto File>Check URL.
2. Enter URL. Press enter to start.
3. Searching starts. By default, you’ll see all links. To see broken links only, goto View>Show broken links only.
4. Final report shows all the links that are broken/unavailable.
3. Free broken link checker: Online service
Our recommended free online tool is ‘Free Broken Link Checker‘. Here, you just need to provide website url and start the search. Within a few minutes, you’ll see the result with a list of broken links, if present in your website.
Free broken link checker scans webpages for dead internal as well as external links. It can analyse any number of pages. For free version, 3000 pages are allowed. It can also detect if a website suffers ‘linkrot’ problem, which is fatal.
4. Check My Links: Chrome browser extension
Check My Links is a chrome extension that can find the dead links in a page. On using the addon, it shows healthy links in green background while faulty and unresponsive links are colored in red.
This is the best tool for checking dead links in sites like Wikipedia that has too many outbound links in every page.
It works fine in most cases, but there are some complaints from users that it shows 301 redirects as broken links and doesn’t work on https.
How often to check broken links?
It depends on the site. Checking for broken links once in a month is fine. It doesn’t takes much time so you can do link checking weekly if you want website to be in healthy everyday.