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How To Find and Kill Broken Links Before It Kills Your SEO

How To Find and Kill Broken Links Before It Kills Your SEO

I like to think of broken backlinks as dead ends.

They’re frustrating for users and can lead them astray from your content. But more importantly, they’re bad for your SEO.

Broken links are the broken windows of the internet.

Like a broken window in an abandoned house, they’re a sign that no one is home. And just like a broken window, they’re an open invitation for vandals to sneak their way in and do their worst.

The vandals, in this case, are search engine algorithms. And the damage they can do is de-index your site, or worse, penalize it.

 


Why Should You Care About Broken Backlinks?

A broken backlink is a link to a page that no longer exists.

It can happen for many reasons:

  • The page has been moved or deleted
  • The URL has been changed
  • The website is down
  • There’s a typo in the URL

Any of these things can happen, and when they do, it creates a broken link.

Broken links are bad for several reasons:

  • They’re Frustrating for Users: If a user clicks on a link that doesn’t work, they will be frustrated. And that frustration is only going to reflect poorly on your website.
  • They’re bad for your SEO: Search engines don’t like broken links. They see them as a sign that your website is out of date and not well-maintained.
  • They can hurt your reputation: If people see that you have a lot of broken links, they will think that you’re not paying attention to your website. And that’s not good for your reputation.

If you care about SEO, you should care about broken links. By taking the time to find and fix them, you can improve your SEO and:

  • Improve User Experience: Broken links are as bad for the user experience as they are for SEO. Imagine if you clicked on a link and it didn’t work. You’d be frustrated, right? Well, your users feel the same way.
  • Grow Your Network: Sometimes, fixing a broken link can lead to new opportunities. For example, if you reach out to the website owner linking to your broken link, they may be interested in linking to your website in the future.
  • Take Advantage of Missed Opportunities: You are the only person who cares about your broken link. And if you don’t fix it, you’re missing out on an opportunity to improve your SEO.
  • Boost Your Rankings: Fixing broken backlinks can directly impact your SEO. In fact, it’s one of the easiest things you can do to improve your rankings.
  • Get More Traffic: By improving your SEO, you can get more traffic to your website. And that spells more opportunities to convert leads into customers.

 


How To Find Broken Backlinks

Now that you know why you should care about broken backlinks, it’s time to learn how to find them.

There are many ways to do this:

  • Use a tool like Screaming Frog: This desktop program crawls your website and looks for broken links. It’s available for both Windows and Mac.
  • Use Google Search Console: Google Search Console is a free tool that allows you to see how Google views your website. It’s a great way to find broken links and other issues that can impact your SEO.
  • Use Ahrefs: This paid tool offers several features, including finding broken backlinks.
  • Use Moz: This is another paid tool that offers several features, including the ability to find broken backlinks.
  • Use Majestic: Majestic is chockful of SEO features, including the ability to find broken backlinks.
  • Use a Plugin: If you’re using WordPress, many plugins can help you find and fix broken links.
  • The Manual Method: While many tools can help you find and fix broken links, we recommend taking the time to do it manually. This way, you can be sure that the link is actually broken and not just temporarily down.

The 8 Most Popular Broken Link Checker Tools

  • Ryte

Ryte is a feature-rich website optimization tool boasting many unique SEO features.

The tool is divided into three modules: website success, search success, and content success. 

The website success module is where you’ll find the broken link checker. Just go to website success module => Links => Status codes.

The first thing you’ll see is your link status codes. Broken links are marked in red while working links are marked in green.

Broken links are also divided into two categories: soft 4xx and 5xx errors.

4xx errors mean the link can’t be found, while 5xx errors indicate a server error.

Next, click on the red bar to see your broken links.

You’ll see a list of all the broken links on your website, their page, and the link text.

If you have a lot of results, you can use the filter option to narrow down the list and only show internal links, external links, or a specific link status code.

To activate the filters, click on the “New Filter” button at the top of the page and select “Domain (Link Target).”

Next, select “contains” and enter your domain name. After that, you want to click on “Save and Close.”

Now you should only see results for your broken internal links.

If you want to see a list of all the broken external links pointing to your website, you can use the “Domain (Link Target)” filter again. Select “does not contain” and enter your domain name this time.

Click on “Save and Close.”

  • Scope and Rates of Ryte

Ryte is a freemium tool, which means you can use it for free to a certain extent. 

The free plan allows you to crawl up to 100 URLs and five quick checks per month in the free plan.

With Ryte, you can access many other tools and features, such as competitor analysis, keyword research, and website audits.

Pricing

The paid plans start at $99 per month (billed annually) for the Basic plan. 

You’ll need to contact Ryte directly for a quote for their enterprise and partner plans.

Pros and Cons of Ryte

 Pros: 

    • Ryte is an online tool, so you don’t need to download anything.
    • No credit card is required for the free plan. 
    • The interface is user-friendly and easy to navigate.
    • High-quality tools for website optimization.
    • No time limit on their free plan.
    • Offers a 7-day trial for their paid plans

Cons

    • The free plan is quite limited. 
    • You can only crawl 100 URLs and five quick monthly checks on the free plan
  • Google Search Console (GSC)

Google Search Console is a free tool offered by Google that helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your website’s presence in Google Search results.

However, many website owners don’t know that a lot of valuable information is hidden in GSC, including a list of broken links.

GSC does more than help you diagnose your SEO problems — it will help you analyze your content, website structure, and more.

Neil Patel does a great job of explaining how to use GSC in this article.

According to Google’s documentation, you can use GSC to do the following:

    • Confirm that Google search engine crawlers can find and crawl your site.
    • Fix indexing problems and request re-indexing of new or updated content.
    • Receive alerts when Google detects issues on your sites, such as malware or spam.
    • View Google Search traffic data for your site: how often your site appears in Google searches, which search queries are associated with your pages, and how often searchers click through to your site.
    • Troubleshoot manual actions that Google has taken on your site.
    • Optimize your website content and structure for better visibility in search results. 
    • Troubleshoot for AMP, mobile security issues, and rich media.
    • Show you which website link is associated with your site in Google search results.

That’s a topic for another day. Let’s go back to finding your broken links in GSC.

To find your broken links in GSC, you must first add and verify your website with GSC.

If you don’t have an account, follow this link to sign up for one.

Once you’re signed in, click on the “Add a property” button and enter your website’s URL. 

You can then choose how you want to verify your website ownership. For most people, the recommended method is to download an HTML file and upload it to your website’s root directory.

After you’ve verified your website, you can click on “Page” in the left-hand sidebar and then scroll down to click on “Not Found (404)” under the “Why Pages Aren’t Indexed” section.

That will show you a list of all the 404 errors on your website.

Click on any URL, and you’ll find all the pages where the link is located.

You can manually go through and update the broken links and let Google recrawl your website. 

If you see any broken external links, you can reach out to the website owner and notify them. See if they can fix the problem or set a 301 redirection to your blog post.

  • Broken Link Check Tool

If you don’t want to use Google Search Console, another option is the Broken Link Check tool.

All you need to do is visit brokenlinkcheck.com and enter your website’s URL; the tool will scan it for broken backlinks. 

The process might take a few minutes, but once it’s done, you’ll see a list of all the broken links on your website.

Even better, the tool allows you to scan up to 3000 URLs for free. 

You should ask the operator for a quote if you need to scan more.

The tool also creates a table with all the broken links and their associated anchor text. 

You can use this information to update your website’s links or reach out to the website owner if it’s an external link.

Scope of the Tool:

The Broken Link Check tool is a great way to find all the broken links on your website. However, it doesn’t give you as much information as Google Search Console.

The free version of the tool only allows you to scan up to 3000 URLs, which might not be enough for larger websites. 

Pros and Cons:

Pros

The tool is straightforward to use and requires no technical skills.

It’s also free to use, which makes it an excellent option for small businesses and website owners on a budget.

Supports subdomains.

Cons

    • It doesn’t give you as much information as Google Search Console
    • The free version is limited to 3000 URLs, which might not be enough for some websites.
    • You must manually go through and update the broken links, which can be time-consuming.

Pricing:

The Broken Link Check tool is free for up to 3000 URLs. You should ask the operator for a quote if you need to scan more.

  • Dead Link Checker

Dead Link Checker is another tool you can use to find and fix broken links on your website.

The process is similar to the other tools where you enter your website’s URL, and the tool starts scanning for broken links.

The only difference is that there are three modes you can choose from:

    • Standard Mode: Checks an entire website or single webpage for broken links. 
    • Multi Check: This option allows you to check multiple websites at once.
    • Auto Check: This option automatically checks your website for broken links at regular intervals.

In the free version, you’re limited to checking 2000 URLs per website. 

If you need to check more, you can purchase a paid plan starting at 99 euros per year. 

They also offer the monthly billing option.

How to Use the Tool

Visit deadlinkchecker.com and enter your website’s URL.

Hit enter, and the tool will scan your website for broken links.

Once the scan is complete, you’ll see a list of all the broken links on your website.

The “multi-check” also operates similarly, only that it allows you to check multiple websites simultaneously. It’s also free, but you have to create an account first.

The auto-check feature is only available in the paid version.

Pricing:

The Dead Link Checker tool is free for up to 2000 URLs per website. If you need to check more, you can purchase a paid plan starting at 99 euros per year. 

They also offer the monthly billing option.

Pros and Cons:

Pros

    • The tool is straightforward to use and doesn’t require any technical skills.
    • It’s also free to use, which makes it an excellent option for small businesses and website owners on a budget.
    • The three different modes allow you to customize the scan to your needs.
    • You can pause the test process and resume it later.

Cons

    • The tool doesn’t give you as much information as Google Search Console. 
    • The free version is limited to 2000 URLs, which might not be enough for some websites.
    • You must manually go through and update the broken links, which can be time-consuming.
    • Paid plans are a bit on the expensive side.
    • Counts subdomains as separate websites
    • The scan depth is limited to 10 links
  • Sitechecker

Sitechecker is another straightforward broken link checker tool.

To use the tools, enter your website’s URL and hit enter.

The tool will then scan your website for broken links. 

Once the scan is complete, you’ll see a list of all the broken links on your website. 

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You’ll receive a detailed report on page structure, 404 errors, and more. You can also download this report as a PDF.

Pricing:

Sitechecker is free to use for up to 100 URLs. If you need to check more, you can purchase a paid plan starting at $278 per year. 

Pros and Cons:

Pros

    • The tool is straightforward to use.
    • It provides a detailed report on your website’s broken links, which can be helpful for troubleshooting.
    • The free version allows you to check 100 URLs, which is more generous than most top-of-the-shelf broken link checkers.
    • Internal and external links are displayed graphically
    • In the paid version, ranking check, backlink tracker, and website monitoring notifications are included
    • You can scan a single site (in the free version) or an entire site (in the paid plan subscription)

Cons

    • The free version is limited to 100 URLs, which might not be enough for some websites. 
    • You can’t export the results of the scan in the free version.
  • Screaming Frog SEO Spider

The Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a powerful broken link checker tool.

It’s a desktop application you can download and install on your computer — Windows, macOS, or Ubuntu.

Once you’ve installed the application, enter your website’s URL and hit start.

The tool will then crawl your website and look for broken links. 

Once the scan is complete, you’ll see a list of all the broken links on your website.

The pie chart at the bottom of the results page provides a quick overview of the broken links on your website.

You can click on “Client Error (4xx)” under “Response Codes” to filter the results and only see the broken links.

At the bottom of the results page, you’ll also find the tab “inlinks.” 

This tab provides information on the number of inlinks (internal links) pointing to each URL.

Here, you’ll find the URLs to 404 sites — these are the pages you want to fix.

The Scope of the Tools and Rates: The free version allows you to crawl up to 500 URLs. 

If you need to crawl more, you can purchase a paid plan starting at £149 per year. 

There is also a monthly billing option available.

Pros and Cons:

Pros

    • It can be used for more than just checking for broken links. 
    • It provides a detailed report on all the broken links on your website. 
    • The free version allows you to check 500 URLs, which is more generous than other tools on this list.
    • The tool can be used offline, which is helpful if you don’t want to use up your data allowance.
    • Analyse and evaluate your website in real-time

Cons

    • The tool can be tricky to use for beginners. 
    • The free version is limited to 500 URLs, which might not be enough for some websites. 
    • You can’t export the results of the scan in the free version.
    • Relatively slow for large websites
  • WordPress Plugin “Rank Math”

The WordPress plugin “Rank Math” can also double as a powerful broken link checker tool.

It’s almost similar to Yoast SEO in that it’s an all-in-one SEO plugin for WordPress websites. 

The tool has 15 modules, including local SEO, structured data, WooCommerce, Sitemaps, etc. 

Install and activate the plugin on your WordPress website to use the broken link checker functionality.

Once the plugin is activated, click “Rank Math” and “404 Monitor” in the left-hand sidebar. 

You can set it to advance mode.

In the simple mode, only the URL hits (the number of times the URL has been accessed) and access time are displayed. 

The advanced mode displays the HTTP response code, referrer (the URL linked to the 404 page), and user agent (the browser used to access the page). 

The plugin will then start monitoring your website for broken links.

The Scope of the Tools and Rates: The Rank Math plugin is free to use. 

Pros and Cons:

Pros

    • The plugin is very easy to use. 
    • It provides detailed information on each broken link, including referrer and user agent. 
    • The plugin is free to use.
    • You can import data from Yoast SEO
    • Integrates with many other tools
    • Broken links are configurable
    • Faulty links are displayed in a table
    • Easy-to-use user interface

Cons 

    • The plugin is not as popular as Yoast SEO, so it might not be as well-supported. 
    • It’s a WordPress plugin that only works with WordPress websites. 
    • No Flesch Reading Index
    • Not ideal for monitoring several websites
  • WordPress Plugin “Broken Link Checker”

While free, easy-to-use, and effective, the Broken link checker tool may not be the best solution for those with a large website.

That’s because it puts a lot of strain on the server, which can slow down your website. 

The plugin works by constantly checking your website for broken links, notifying you when it stumbles across any. 

You can then go in and fix the broken links.  

The plugin is available for free from the WordPress plugin repository.

To install the plugin, search for “Broken Link Checker” in the WordPress repository and then install and activate the plugin. 

Once activated, the plugin will scan your website for broken links.

You can view the results of the scan by clicking on “Tools” and then “Broken Links” in the left-hand sidebar. 

You can see a list of all the broken links on your website. 

The plugin will also tell you where the broken link is located. 

After installing the plugin, a new entry, “Broken Links”, will appear in the WordPress menu under “Tool.” Click on it to view a list of broken links, if any.

From the plugin’s settings page, you can configure how often the plugin should check for broken links, what kind of links to check, and whether or not to be notified by email when a broken link is found. 

Pros and Key Features: 

    • The plugin is straightforward to use.
    • A convenient way to find and fix broken links
    • The plugin is available for free.

Cons

    • The plugin puts a strain on the server, which can slow down your website.

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