Having links on your website that lead to non-existent URLs is highly unprofessional
Broken links are links that lead to non-existent pages. Everyone, at one time or another, has clicked on a link and seen the 404 error page – which means that the requested URL doesn’t exist. Think about your behavior when you land on a non-existent page. Most likely you’ve left the website and searched for another one because you found the broken link unprofessional. In other words – you found their business unprofessional. With the growth of your web site’s content you might not even notice how some of your internal links break and don’t lead to the place they should. With external links the situation is even worse – the URLs of external websites that your page links to may change all the time and you won’t notice it unless you continually go through your entire web site to check all the links.
Having broken links on your website results in many drawbacks:
- Some customers won’t come back to your website, because they don’t want to waste their time landing on non-existent pages.
- You won’t get as many new customers, because they won’t find what they’re searching for due to the broken web links.
- Broken links have a negative impact on your search engine rankings.
In summary, broken links can damage your online reputation and have a negative effect on your business – that’s why you should deal with them. Completely avoiding broken links is not possible – you should periodically test to see if your website contains broken links, and then fix any that you find. Luckily there are a lot of tools that can help you with this – some of them are free, some are paid. Let’s go through 3 of them and their pros and cons.
XENU is popular, completely free software for checking broken links. At first sight you might not like it, because of its webpage – it looks very 90’s style and not professional at all. But a lot of people use this tool, so don’t rely on your first impression. It’s really useful and can help you a lot in solving your broken links problem. Be aware that you have to download and install it on your PC – it’s not an online tool.
- It’s a completely free tool. So if you don’t want to invest money, or your web site is small, without much content and so not worth investing in a special tool, this is the perfect instrument for you.
- It’s really easy to use, so you won’t find any problems working with it. Despite the lack of graphics, the interface is user friendly and intuitive.
- It’s very fast. PC Magazine called it “the fastest link-checking software” – this speaks for itself.
- Some links may appear to be broken, but it’s because of a time out on the request to the server, not because the links don’t exist. You should be aware of this when you go through the report of your web site check.
- The software runs OK on Windows platforms – but you’ll have some difficulties starting it on other platforms, although with a bit of effort it won’t be a real problem.
This tool has an impressive portfolio of user sites which use it to correct broken links, including the London Olympics 2012 sites. This is enough to prove the effectiveness of this tool.
- Completely online tool – you can run it from everywhere and from any device no matter what its operating system.
- You can scan unlimited numbers of web pages and links – both internal and external URLs. Well, they’re unlimited with the paid subscription.
- The tool shows the problematic link location in the HTML code of your site, so that you can directly see the actual HTML tag which contains the broken link.
- Not completely free. The free version has a limitation of 3,000 pages – there’s no limit to the number of links on these pages. Try the free version first and if you like it but it doesn’t offer enough for your needs, then get the paid one. The price will depend on your website and you’ll receive an offer depending on your needs.
- Neat interface and user friendly graphic design. The tool looks really good and you can work with it easily. The analytics and reports are shown with graphics, which help a lot when analyzing. The dashboard is intuitive and helps you quickly understand what the situation with your web site is.
- Link Tiger highlights all the broken links within the web page that contains them. This means you can fix them faster.
- Provides detailed reports with graphics. You can export them too.
- You can be notified via e-mail every time Link Tiger finds a broken link on your web site. So that way you can fix it before users notice it.
- It’s a paid service, but it offers a 15 day free trial so that you can see if this tool suits you.
There are a lot of other tools – you can google them and try them out to see which one fits your needs best. But remember that one of the most important things about the software is that it should not only find broken links but point them out on the page that contains them so that you can fix them easily. Otherwise you will end up wasting a lot of time finding the exact places on your site where you should correct the link. The tool for searching for broken links must also support scanning in secured websites. Go broken links hunting!