A broken link is a website page that cannot be found. In this case, a web server will send a user a 404-error message, informing them that the page they’ve clicked on doesn’t exist anymore. The reasons for broken links are multiple. For example, you mistyped your URL, changed the URL structure of your site without redirecting pages, or you moved or deleted a page.
Even though broken links don’t sound like a big deal right now, they can hurt your online presence in multiple ways.
First, according to Search Quality Rating Guidelines, broken links are also one of the major indicators of your site’s quality and relevance. As such, they impact your rankings. Namely, too many broken links may tell search engines that your site is not optimized regularly or that it is abandoned.
Broken links also impact user experiences. Users click on your links from multiple channels because want to learn more about you. They won’t be happy to see that the link to your site isn’t working. This may increase their bounce rates and discourage them from visiting you again. These are some key user experience factors that may also impact your rankings.
To avoid such problems, here are a few simple ways to identify your broken links effortlessly.
1. Use an Online Broken Link Checker Tool
If your budget doesn’t allow you to invest in a paid link checker, you can always opt for a free online option. There are numerous tools like Small SEO Tools, BrokenLinkCheck, or Dead Link Checker that are free and, above all, easy to use.
For example, Broken Link Check allows you to analyze up to 3,000 pages. All you need to do is enter your URL and click the “Find Broken Links” button.
There are two options to choose from – reporting distinct broken links only and reporting all occurrences of each broken link. Next, the software will provide a list of all internal and external links that are dead, as well as provide a link to the page where the broken link is found.
2. Invest in a Website Crawler to Maximize your Analysis
You can use SEO crawlers to find all links on your website and analyze them thoroughly.
One such tool is the popular Screaming Frog that offers a free broken link checker. When you install the tool, you need to copy your URL in the ‘enter URL to spider’ field and click start.
Then, you can either wait until the tool finishes crawling your entire website or you can use the “Response Codes” option to see only 404 broken links. Next, you will want to see the source of a broken link by clicking on the “Inlinks” tab. Finally, the tool lets you export all your data to spreadsheets.
Another equally powerful tool is SEOptimer’s SEO crawler. Its DIY SEO plan runs comprehensive checks of your website pages to detect broken links. Additionally, the tool will also help you check your meta tags, content volume, social profile activity, SSL security, sitemaps, etc.
3. Get the Most out of Google Search Console
Google Search Console is an inevitable element in your SEO toolbox. With its help, you can observe, maintain, and improve your website’s presence on Google.
To start using it, you will first need to verify your website.
Next, to check your broken links, go to Google Search Console > Crawl > Crawl Errors report that lets you know if there are any 404 error pages.
All you need to do is click on these links and you will see the pages that are linking back to the 404 pages. Still, keep in mind that Google Search Console provides results only for the links on your website, not the external ones.
4. Choose a Web-Based SEO Audit Tool
There are many popular web-based SEO tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush. With them, you can automatically scan your website for any errors.
Here is how you can use Ahrefs to identify broken links.
First, you can use its Site audit tool. Create a new project, add your site’s URL, and let the tool scan your site. Once the scan is completed, you can open your report and see all 404 errors on your site.
Second, use Ahrefs Site Explorer. Go to Backlinks profile > Backlinks > Broken to find the most important broken links on your site.
Third, you can also go to the Outgoing Links > Broken Links to identify the broken links on your site that are leading your visitors to non-existing pages.
5. Install a Broken Link Checker WP Plugin
If you’re running a WordPress site, one of the easiest ways to check your dead links is to install a Broken Link Checker plugin. This plugin has numerous amazing features, including monitoring links in your posts, pages, comments, or custom fields. Sure, you can search for specific links, based on their URL, anchor text, etc.
The tool will continuously monitor your links and identify any broken links and missing redirects and immediately notify you via email or its dashboard. Most importantly, it prevents Google from following a dead link.
Sure, using the WP plugin to detect broken links has many downsides. One of them is the plugin’s impact on your site’s performance and speed. To keep your site perfectly optimized, it’s always better to off-load broken link monitoring to some of the abovementioned tools.
Over to You
Identifying and fixing both internal and external broken backlinks is immensely important, as it may impact both user experiences and rankings.
Still, researching them manually is almost impossible. To analyze all links on your site and detect dead ones, you will need to choose the right tool to help you. These are some of the most powerful solutions that may work for you.
How do you find broken links on your site?