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Have you ever followed a website link only to be met with the dreaded “404 – Page Not Found” error message? This frustrating experience is the result of broken links. They are not only annoying for consumers but also a huge source of concern for website owners and SEO professionals.
We have created this detailed guide to assist you in understanding the ins and outs of broken links and the wonderful world of the free broken link checker tool, using our years of experience in the digital web marketing realm.
We will go through what they are, why they are important, and, perhaps most importantly, how to use an online broken link checker tool to fix them so that your website runs smoothly and efficiently.
Read on below to learn about broken or dead links and how to fix and check broken links on any websites you operate.
A broken link is a hyperlink that links to a non-existent page or resource. Most of the time, these linked pages are missing because they were deleted or relocated without a redirection in the time since the link was originally added to the page. A broken link is also known as a dead link or link rot.
When a user or crawler clicks on a broken link, the server sends the status code 404 (Not Found) or 410 (Gone). That is the origin of the “404 – page not found” error you may well have seen online.
There are several types of broken links that you may encounter on your website and pages.
Broken Internal Links
A broken internal link is a link that is supposed to redirect users to another page on your website, but for some reason, it is failing to do that.
However, if you have modified your website URL, deleted the page, or had pages dropped during a page migration, you may have broken internal links on your site.
Broken links make it difficult for Google and other search engines to crawl your pages, and broken links prevent Google from moving on to the next page in the crawl.
As a result, Google may believe that your website is not optimized or is incomplete, which would harm your ranks.
Having several broken links can have a huge impact on your site’s rankings, and for your site to score well on Google, you will need all the links on your web page to work properly.
Broken External Links
An external link directs a user to a website that is not under your control, typically another site that supplements the content on your own pages. These are also known as outbound links.
When these links break, it could mean that the external site now no longer exists, has relocated, or does not have the proper redirects in place.
These types of broken links degrade the user experience and can harm your search engine authority, as links to dead sites make your website appear less authoritative and trustworthy.
Backlinks are links to your content on other websites. They are essentially external links to your website from other sites.
When you update your content or make any other changes, such as changing URLs or deleting pages, your backlinks will no longer be able to support your website and generate authority, which might harm your status with Google and other major search engines.
Broken links will harm your Google Search results but not your overall SEO. A large number of broken links on a single page may suggest that a site has been neglected or abandoned.
Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines also make use of broken links to establish a site’s quality, but as long as you are regularly monitoring for broken links or resolving broken links when Google tells you of a new issue identified on your site, you should be able to keep up a high-quality web presence.
The problem comes when you have too many broken links. If your web page hosts a large number of broken links, Google will mark your entire site down.
One or two is fine – link rot is a thing that happens naturally, and dead links can be impossible to avoid. The problem is when all the links on the page are broken.
Do not overlook the effect of a dead link. User experience is one of the main factors that influence SEO. When search engine algorithms are updated, it is usually because the primary purpose is to give consumers a better search and experience overall.
Although Google will recognize that there will be some broken links, actual users may not be as forgiving. This will undoubtedly harm your reputation.
Each visitor to your page will base their choice on usability, experience, load time, and content.
If there are broken links on your site and the visitor is unable to access the information they are looking for, they will go to another site that can supply them with the information they want.
The good news is that there are several broken link checker tools that can be used to find all the dead links on your site so that you can fix broken pages and get your entire website site back into perfect condition.
A dead link checker crawls your web pages and spots broken links so that the website owner can restore website integrity without having to manually perform a comprehensive link check on all the pages on their whole website (or multiple sites, for larger webmasters!).
Most of these broken link checker tools work with any blog software or host and can be used by mobile users and webmasters running any major operating system, including Windows, Linux, and Mac OS.
This is because most broken link checker tools are online tool apps that run on external servers rather than software that must be downloaded.
Let’s take a quick look at a few of the best free tool broken link checker options.
Dr. Link Checker
Dr. Link Checker’s free version allows you to review up to 1000 URLs. You can review all internal and external links with this online tool. This broken link checker generates a full report of all link problems with your website.
All of the links are thoroughly checked to see if there are any problems with them. It also offers an incredible auto-check scheduling function that allows you to set up your website’s checks and have them run automatically.
You may also use Dr. Link Checker to check links to photos or other assets.
Screaming Frog is an excellent tool for detecting broken links. This tool is free to use for up to 500 URLs. There is a premium version that allows you to crawl an unlimited number of URLs.
You can review all of a website’s crawled pages and retrieve all data relating to internal and external links. This tool makes it simple to identify broken links and any temporary and permanent redirection on a certain website so that they may be rectified.
It is extremely user-friendly; simply put the name of your website into the text field, and the program will begin crawling it. Screaming Frog will output clear status codes as part of its comprehensive report on your bad URLs and dead pages.
Ahrefs is simple to use, and you can check each broken link on your websites for details. It has one of the world’s largest backlink databases. Ahrefs delivers a fully detailed report on all backlinks. You can download the reports as CSV files right away.
When compared to other tools, the crawling of links is substantially faster. It is an excellent tool for gathering all of the information about backlinks in one location.
The disadvantage of Ahrefs is that there is no free plan, so it is not the most affordable option for small businesses that might be better off with small SEO tools that are totally free.
Semrush is a fantastic tool for discovering all of the links pointing to your site. SEMrush has a large database and includes geo-distribution features such as graphs, pie charts, and so on that display all of the backlink data and the authority rating of all referrals.
You can follow the progress of each domain’s link building as well as analyze the backlinks of your competitors. It features a feature that allows you to find out the IP address of the referring domain, the IP distribution by country, and so on.
SEMrush’s drawback is that it is more expensive than other broken link checker applications.
Broken link building is a strategy that makes use of broken web pages. It entails locating a dead page and requesting that linkers swap the links to a working page on your site. They will do this since they do not want to direct users to a defunct resource.
Because everyone moves, deletes, and reorganizes content over time, many of your competitors will have at least a few bad hyperlinks. If they fail to redirect outdated URLs, their backlinks will refer to broken pages.
Because they do not want to deal with the negative impact of a non-existing content 404 error, your offer of a new link helps both of you: them because it is fixing their dead links and you because it’s bringing you more incoming links to your online business.
Broken link building opportunities should not be overlooked!
When a website moves to a new domain, that single act can negatively impact other sites that link to it. Dead hyperlinks to what were once valid resources, dead pages that are permanently unavailable, server error messages, and much more.
Using a broken link checker to check broken links on your website allows you to catch all of these issues at once and repair broken pages, fixing up your HTML code as part of your link building efforts.
Dead pages can be a nuisance, and their info can be buried in your website’s style sheets. You may have to perform multiple checks to catch them if you insist on doing this manually, but automatic link checker websites can spot every single broken link on multiple websites in a single action.
Scott Calland is a highly regarded content specialist with an English Degree. He has a passion for creating compelling content as a UK journalist that engages, informs, and entertains readers. With over 10 years of experience in creating news publications as a reporter, Scott has developed a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of how to craft content that resonates with audiences. Working closely with data analysts Scott’s research on topics is unrivalled for latest news updates.
Scott is also an investor in Searcharoo.