How to use a Broken Link Checker and why it’s important

How often do you check your blog for broken links? Do you use a broken link checker? If not you should.

The Broken Link Checker plugin is notorious for slowing down website loading speeds. Instead you should use a broken link checker website. You get the same information but with no performance overhead on your own site.

Why do I need to check for broken links?

OK, so before we get into the nitty gritty of how to check for and fix broken links, let’s have a look at why we need to fix them at all.

There are two reasons for fixing broken links. The first is for the benefit of your readers. It’s really irritating to click on a link in a blog post only to be greeted with a ‘this page cannot be found’ error. As a blog reader myself, it really turns me off and makes me much more likely not to bother coming back again. If a blogger can’t even be bothered to make sure their links are all working then how much effort are they actually putting into their content?

The second is for the benefit of Google. That’s right my friend, broken links are (yet) another thing that can harm your SEO and Google page ranking. Google themselves say that broken links don’t directly effect SEO, but their rankings are based on lots of metrics including user experience and bounce rate. If a user finds a broken link on your site they’re more likely to bounce off your site.

How do I check for broken links?

You have a few options. As I mentioned earlier you **could** use a plugin. But for the sake of your page loading speeds please don’t. If you check for broken links weekly, you won’t need a plugin.

You could use a browser add-on like the Atom SEO Broken Link Checker extension for Chrome. I had a quick play with this extension for this post and it wasn’t bad. To use it you just go to the website that you want to check for broken links and click on the icon in the menu bar. It will automatically check the page you’re on, and then fi you want it to scan the whole site you click the ‘Check all Page on this Site’ button and it will open another tab where it will give you a list of broken links once it’s finished scanning. In this way it’s very similar to most broken link checker websites.

I like to use a broken link checker website. They’re so easy to use-all you do is pop in your URL and click a button then sit back and watch the magic happen. It really is that simple. When it’s finished you’ll get a list a broken links along with the URL of the page/post on your blog where you’re linking to the broken link.

Which broken link checker should I use?

There are a few to choose from, but they’re all pretty much the same. I use this Online Broken Link Checker. It’s the first one that appears in the search results when you google ‘broken link checker’.

Dead Link Checker seems just as good, but I’m not overly keen on the colour scheme of the overall site – yes I am that picky. There’s also the W3C Link Checker, which displays the results in a slightly different way to the other two. But I will be honest that I got some weird results using the W3C checker compared to checking the same site with the other broken link checkers, so you might want to stick with one of the first two.

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How do I fix the broken links?

So you’ve done the easy bit and got your list of broken links but what do you do now? Thankfully, not only do broken link checkers tell you which links are broken but they tell you where those links are on your blog.

You have two options for removing broken links, either you can delete them or fix them. If the broken link is within one of your posts or pages just go to edit that page and change the link in the same way that you added it or delete it. The same goes for broken links added to comments, go to the edit comment screen and either fix or delete.

If there’s an obvious typo in the link I’ll fix it, for example the first result from the Online Broken Link Checker screenshot should be thiswelshmother.co.uk not thiswelshmother.com so I’m going to fix that link.

This is a link that was posted as part of a comment and I don’t really have time to find out what the link should be so I’m going to delete the link by removing the URL in the URL text box and updating the comment.

Summary

So in summary, broken links are bad for users and therefore bad for your blog.

You can check them in a few ways, I recommend that you use either an extension for your browser or that you use a broken link checker website. Once you’ve got the list of broken links either fix them or remove them.

If you have any questions about anything I’ve mentioned in this post please leave a comment or send me an email at kim@kimscotland.com

12 Comments on “How to use a Broken Link Checker and why it’s important”

    1. The first time you do it, it might take a while, but if you keep on top and do it weekly it becomes a 10 minute job (if that)

  1. I used to use the plugin, but moved over to the website, it just won’t do all my pages because there’s too many so I have to keep it regularly. I find it quite theraputic though.

  2. I’ve used “Broken Link Checker” chrome extension. But I face some problem and it takes lots of time. But I hear the new one on this post which is “Online Broken Link Checker.” I never try this one. Thanks kim for this great article I’ll use this one in the future. Keep writing the helpful article like this one.

  3. New to all this. Just for reference is this for links like the one we use on Pinterest? I’m just starting and posted a pin to my post. I’ve just published another one and the first pin now takes me through to the current post. The jargon is confusing! (I’m a bear with a very little brain!) ? Am I looking for a backlink, an html link or an anchor link? ?Your post is informative, maybe I should use this tool first then start from there?!?

    1. So when we talk about checkign your blog for broken links we mean any links within your posts that might be broken, for example if you linked to a newspaper article that is longer accessible, or if someone leaves a comment on your blog along with their URL, but that URL doesn’t exist any more. These kinds of links irritate your readers and Google doesn’t like them either.
      Does that make sense? The jargon can be really confusing, if there’s anything within my post that you didn’t understand let me know and I’ll try and explain it better.

      You may be interested in joining a facebook group that I co-run with a friend which is aimed at creating a relaxed and friendly atmosphere for bloggers to ask any tech questions, You can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/blogtechwomen/

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