Broken links are a lot more of a common occurrence than you think, and chances are that you've never even considered it. How many times have you or anyone that has written for your site posted a link to a news story or blog post? Chances are that the page on your website is still active, but a lot of times the news stories or blog posts that you're linking to on that page are taken off of that website's server for space issues and other reasons. At the same time, are you 100% sure that you've included "http://" or "www." in ALL of your inbound links? When search engine spiders go to crawl your site and notice these broken links, they report them back to the search engines as "crawl errors" which can negatively affect your site's search engine rankings. Usually, you can see what "crawl errors" occur in Google Webmaster tools, but this doesn't always report all broken links and, just because the spider didn't pick up on them the last time around, it doesn't mean that they won't eventually. That being said, checking your site every once in a while for broken links is a very good idea, and if it's something you think you have the time to do, here is a do-it-yourself guide on how to check for bad or broken links.
Checking broken links on a MAC
The best program available for a Mac that scans your entire website site for broken outbound links is Integrity by Peacock Media. Integrity is also preferred over the leading back link checker for PC users because not only does it report what links are bad, but it also tells the user where the links are located. Unfortunately Integrity is not available for PC users, but scroll down to find out more about the preferred broken link checker for PC users. (I'd also like to take the time to clarify that we have no alliance or connection with the manufacturers or distributors of either of these programs and that this blog post is based solely on opinion and experience). To check for bad backlinks on your Mac using Integrity, download, install, and open the program and paste the URL that you'd like to check for broken links on Include any of your preferred settings if necessary and then hit Go. The results will then include ALL links, and you can focus on the broken links only by clicking on "Bad Links Only" After clicking the bad links button, only bad links (which are highlighted in red) are displayed and you can now get more information on how to find and correct them. The report includes the
- error that occurred
- the URL of the bad link
- the anchor text of the link as it was found on the page(s) and
- what page(s) the broken link was found on. If the broken link was found on more than one page, it will tell you how many pages the broken link was found on and, if you double click the entry, it will give a list of the pages where the broken link was found.
You can then go into the content management system of your website and fix (or remove) the broken links one-by-one. Yes, this can be time consuming, but it is necessary.
Checking for Broken Links on a PC
Xenu's Link Sleuth is the best broken link checker available for PC users. Download and install the program and then open it. Click on File and select Check Url Paste the Url, select any additional options you'd like to include, and click Ok If you'd only like to view the broken links (as opposed to all links), click on View and then Show Broken Links Only Link Sleuth then generates a report which includes the following information about the broken links on your site:
- URL of bad link
- Error status
- The type of link
- The Title or anchor text of the broken link
Link Sleuth doesn't include what page(s) the broken link occurs on, but if you know the anchor text of the broken link, you can go to Google and search the entire site for that anchor text phrase to try to find the broken link. To do this:
- Go to Google.com
- type site:http://www.yourdomain.com "anchor text of broken link" (be sure to include the quotations)
- The pages on your site that include that exact phrase will be displayed as the search engine result which should help you pinpoint the location(s) of the broken link.
That is how to check for broken links on your site. It's probable that you've never even thought about the news story that you linked to 2 years ago which has since been taken down, so be sure to check for these broken links every few months. Correcting these broken links is obviously a lot easier if you have access to a content management system where you can easily make the changes to yourself, and if you don't have access to a CMS you probably want to contact your design company to help you make the corrections.