You might think that a blog will take care of itself and the view will simply keep coming once you’re done with certain content, but that’s often not the case. A certain element in blogging or content making is more high-maintenance than you would think; that is the external or internal linking. Often these can expire or disappear, so it’s up to you to find and fix broken links on your website.
Now, you might be thinking: why go through the trouble of fixing the links in old content? Turns out that task is a lot more important than its face value. You see, one of Google’s search engine optimization (SEO) metrics today involves checking your website’s links. The more intact they are or the higher their authority, the better your SEO. In a sense, it pays to find and fix broken links.
Of course, you don’t actually have to do that manually. Your time as a blogger should be spent better on creating content for your website, after all. So, you can then employ machines to do the work for you.
Certain tools exist that can help you find and fix broken links. Each of them does pretty much the same thing but are made differently and thus have distinct uses for various scenarios or dispositions of your website. Check out these tools or methods that can help you find and fix broken links with ease.
If you’re using WordPress as your content management system (CMS) or website builder then the chances are, there’s a plugin for anything. So it stands to reason that there’s also a plugin for broken links called the Broken Link Checker. It’s one of the most obvious solutions you can employ to find and fix broken links but it’s not the best one.
Being a plugin, it can and will cause slowdowns on your WordPress website– especially since it’s a plugin that needs to sweep your whole website for errors. Still, if you want to have the convenience of not having to open another desktop tool or window and letting WordPress do all the work, then Broken Link Checker will suit your preference just fine. All you have to do is install it, open the plugin on your WordPress interface and let it do the magic.
If you want a standalone non-plugin alternative to Broken Link Checker, then Dead Link Checker will surely do the job. The way it works is simple, you just go to their website, input your URL on the bar and then let it rip. The site will then crawl through your whole website checking for broken links. That is the free service and it does require a bit more input and decision from you.
If you want it to give your website a periodic scan (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) from Dead Link Checker, you’ll have to fork out a monthly subscription plan of $9.95. If you do, then the website or company will email you reports of your broken links once it completes its periodic scan. That’s one way to automate your broken link search.
Now, if you want a tool that will not slow your WordPress website down but works in a similar manner to a plugin, you might want to check out Check My Links. Instead of bogging down WordPress, Check My Links will place the load on your Google Chrome browser instead; that’s because it’s an extension for Chrome.
Once you install it, Check My Links will then start monitoring the website you’re writing on and give you a report of all the broken links. Afterward, you can copy and paste this report of links and have them replaced or fixed manually. Since it’s just a free extension, don’t expect it to be as in-depth as the WordPress plugin or an external tool or website. In any case, it still works in a pinch especially if you prefer lightweight options.
Google search console, formerly known as Webmaster Tools is a free software from Google; it has a good history of checking broken links. Before it was renamed, the Google search console used to display pages with 404 errors (basically broken links) in the “Crawl Errors” section. Now, Google has since overhauled that function.
Ever since 2018, the “Crawl Errors” page has been replaced with a “URL Inspection Tool”. As you might have guessed, it works well enough to find and fix broken links on your website. Overall, it’s a great tool for checking you old content, especially those with old permalink structures. Plus, it’s an all-in-one tool as well.
Tired of all the free tools here? Then Ahrefs could be the tool to fit your premium taste or needs. It’s similar to Google search console. It also features a slew of other features and options for your website other than broken link checking. However, Ahrefs is a more intricate and helpful for serious bloggers or websites; more so for those who are also established and have some spare funds.
Apart from pointing out which links lead to 404 pages, Ahrefs also informs you of broken redirects or time-outs. Broken backlinks are also not exempted from this SEO tool. Of course, all this comes at a premium cost. Ahrefs Site Audit requires a $99 per month subscription; it does come with a $7 one-week trial if you want to test out the waters first.
If standalone applications or tools are more your speed, then Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool has you covered. It’s available for Windows, macOS, and Linux PCs and functions as a web crawler once installed on your computer. It pretty much crawls through any website URL you put in and comes back with analytical data, including that of broken links or dead URLs.
The tool has both a free version and a paid version where the former only allows you to check 500 URLs or links. If you have a bigger website with more frequent content posts, then you’ll need the paid version which costs £149 ($184) per year.
Now, if Screaming Frog is too expensive for you or you find its 500-link limit too suffocating, then Xenu’s Link Sleuth could be a better option. It’s an old link-checker tool that hasn’t been updated since 2010 but still surprisingly works well today.
It’s free and will inform you of any broken link in a URL you search for. Being an outdated tool, however, it takes a lot more manual effort on your part to fix these links compared to some of the more updated tools in this list.
Whichever tool you pick, make sure that your links are clean and have decent website authority. At the very least, you can focus on improving your content now that these tools have your old posts covered.