Imagine you’re on one of your favorite websites, reading an interesting post about new features in an image editing application.
You’re excited, because you’ve been looking for those features for a while. You select a link and find yourself on a page with a large “Page Not Found” message.
Not what you expected.
Face it, broken links on websites are frustrating for everyone.
People visiting a website get annoyed when they encounter a broken link on a page. They’re looking for helpful information and resources.
How can they trust your website when it points to broken links?
Website owners and content authors don’t like broken links. It takes time to discover, research, and fix a link that no longer works.
And search engines aren’t fans of broken links, either.
Without correct links, search engines can’t navigate your site and index your content.
What Causes Broken Links?
When we add more content to our websites, it seems the number of broken links keeps increasing.
What’s causing all those broken links?
Some of the common reasons are:
- Website redesign with new URLs that aren’t redirected to new page (I see this all the time!)
- Site no longer exists
- Move to another website domain without redirection to new domain
- Honest mistake when you added the link to your content
Whatever the reason, you want to stay on top of broken links. And the best way to do that is with a broken link checker.
Link checkers are programs or online tools that crawl your website, verify links on pages, and provide you with a list of URLs with broken links.
Over the years, I’ve used a dozen different broken link tools, including plugins.
Now, I’ve turned to web-based tools for checking broken links.
A web-based tool is a lot faster at finding broken links than installing a program or plugin on your own site.
Here are two of my favorite link checkers.
W3C Link Checker
The W3C Link Checker online tool has been around for years. But I’ve noticed that in the past five years, not many people are aware of it.
You can check the broken links on a page or a website.
W3C Link Checker has several options, including how many levels of linked documents to check.
Note: if you have a large website, you’ll want to be careful with the levels settings.
Online Broken Link Checker
The Online Broken Link Checker analyzes your pages for broken links, supports subdomains, but is limited to 3,000 pages.
Note: Links to documents (Adobe PDF, Word documents, Excel files, and PowerPoint) and images will not be checked.
After you enter the website URL, Online Broken Link Checker asks you whether you want to report distinct broken links only or report all occurrences of each dead link.
Once you submit the information, it will scan your pages and display a list of broken links along with the associated URLs.
If you have more than 3,000 pages, you can contact Online Broken Link Checker for a paid report to check inside files (PDFs, Word, etc) as well as get customized reporting with different formatting options like sortable columns, filtering, and export.
Broken links can be a pain to deal with, but once you set a regular schedule for checking them, they are much easier to manage.
Due to performance, a free web-based tool like the W3C Link Checker or Online Broken Link Checker is a lot faster than running a tool within your own site.
Which link checker do you use? Share your recommendations in the comments.