Good linking is one of the most important SEO factors. But what happens if your links go nowhere? This not only annoys your visitors, but also wastes the crawler contingent of Google, Bing, etc. Because instead of a 404-site the crawler could have indexed a working site . We show you how Broken Link Checker can help you to get a grip on these problems.
Why are broken links harmful?
When a user clicks on one of your links, they expect useful content. If they encounter a broken link instead and only see a 404 error, your visitors gets annoyed - and will probably leave your site. In addition, search engines punish sites that offer a bad user experience. Therefore, broken links can even harm your ranking.
Do you have your ranking in mind?
How to perform a comprehensive SEO audit of your website in 8 steps is explained to you inhis article Dominik Stein .
There is another reason to take care of broken links. When Google and other search engines crawl your website, they do so within a predefined budget. This means only as many URLs are crawled until this contingent is used up. After that the crawling is stopped. If your budget is used up, you have to wait for the next crawler session. Let us assume the crawling budget is 100 URLs at a time. What a waste would it be if 70 of them lead to a 404 error.
On a website with many subpages it is not easy to find each of the broken links. But with an automated broken links checker, faulty links can be identified very quickly - even without performance-hungry WordPress plugins. But more on that later.
The 8 most popular broken link checker tools
#1 Broken Links Checker from Ryte
The comprehensive website optimization tool called Ryte is divided into three modules: Website Success, Content Success, and Search Success. In the Website Success module, you can find the Broken Link Checker under Links → Status Codes.
Immediately you will see the link status. Broken links are marked in red as 4xx and 5xx. 4xx errors mean "not found", while 5xx errors mean a server error. Click on the red bar to view the broken links.
If you have a lot of results, you can use a filter to show only internal links, for example. To activate a filter, click on "New filter" at the top of the screen and select "Domain (link target)". Then select "contains" and enter your domain name. After that click on "Save and close". Now you will only see internal broken links.
Scope and rates of the tool: Ryte offers an SEO crawl with up to 100 URLs and 5 quickchecks per month in the free version. With Ryte, you also get access to many other tools that support your website in addition to the Broken Link Checker.
The paid Basic Suite is suitable for up to three users, three projects, a crawling of up to 50,000 URLs and costs just under 90 euros per month with annual billing. Those who need more can request a quote for the Business Suite. Then a tailor-made solution will be put together.
Ryte: Pros & Features
- Ryte is an online tool - no installation necessary
- High-quality tools for complete SEO checks including WDF*IDF analyses
- Free account has no time limit
- In the free version you can only crawl 100 sites
#2 Google Search Console
The Google Search Console (GSC) is one of the best free SEO tools around. However, many website owners don't know how much valuable information is hidden in the data of the Search Console. After all, the GSC not only helps you diagnose SEO problems, but more importantly, it helps you analyze your content and improve your organic traffic. In his article, marketing guru Neil Patel explains how you can use the Search Console data correctly to increase your traffic.
According to Google's own description, you can use Search Console for the following tasks:
- Confirm that Google can find and crawl your site.
- Fix indexing problems and request re-indexing of new or updated content.
- View Google Search traffic data for your site: how often your site appears in Google Search, which search queries show your site, how often searchers click through for those queries, and more.
- Receive alerts when Google encounters indexing, spam, or other issues on your site.
- Show you which sites link to your website.
- Troubleshoot issues for AMP, mobile usability, and other Search features.
But back to the topic of broken links. To use the Google Search Console for checking your links (and all other GSC functions), you only need to register briefly and verify your website.
On the left site there is a menu item called "Cover". By clicking, further entries such as "Details" appear. Under "Redirection errors", both 404 and server errors are displayed in tabs.
Below the diagram, there is a list with further information for broken links that have been found. This can be filtered and downloaded. By clicking on one of these broken links, a window appears where further details such as the source URLs are displayed.
Google Search Console: Pros & Features
- Comprehensive SEO tools that help discover optimization potential.
- Integrates with many external tools, including Google Analytics.
If you don't feel like clicking through extensive SEO tools, there's an easier way. On BrokenLinkCheck.com you enter the URL of your website, click on a button and the service checks up to 3,000 sites free of charge. If you need more, you can request a quote from the operator via a contact form. The web tool creates a table with the incorrect URLs. In the second column, the source URLs can be viewed.
Scope of the tool: You can choose between the free version with up to 3,000 URLs and the paid version with higher limits.
BrokenLinkCheck.com: Pros & Features
- Generates clear reports and indicates the position of broken links in the code.
- Supports subdomains.
- Uncomplicated to operate.
- The free version only checks 3,000 sites .
- You have to ask for the prices of the paid version via contact form.
#4 Dead Link Checker
The Dead Link Checker is similarly easy to use as BrokenLinkCheck.com. Here, however, there are three modes to choose from: In addition to the standard Site Check for checking the entire website or a single subpage, you have "Multi Check" for multiple websites and "Auto Check" for regular automatically initiated checks. In the free versions, up to 2,000 links are found.
To start the free Site Check, it is sufficient to enter the URL of the website in the input field on the main page and confirm it with a click. This is followed by a list with the incorrect URLs.
The "Multi Check" is also free of charge, but requires an account. The regular "Auto Checker", on the other hand, is chargeable and can be booked from around 99 euros per year. Monthly billing periods are also available.
The tariffs at a glance:
- Auto Checker Standard for 99 Euro - up to 5 websites, 50.000 links per month
- Auto Checker Premium for 395 Euro - up to 100 websites, 500,000 links per month
- Auto Checker Professional for 790 Euro - up to 200 websites, 1.000.000 links per month
Dead Link Checker: Pros & Features
- Three different modes allow an optimally adapted use
- URL keyword filterable with wildcards
- The test process can be paused and resumed
- Thanks to the examination of several links at once, the process is accelerated
- The scan depth is limited to 10 links.
- Subdomains count as a separate website.
Sitechecker is a straightforward choice to expose broken links. Simply enter the domain on the main page and an investigation is performed. This is followed by a detailed report and problems in the page structure and 404 errors are highlighted. In the free version you can check 100 sites . If you need more or even expect a complete solution for search engine optimization, you can book the "All-in-One SEO Platform".
The following tariffs are bookable:
- "Startup" for annually from 278 USD supports up to 5 websites, 5000 URLs per account as well as 500 keywords and 5000 backlinks per account
- "Growing" for annually from 662 USD supports up to 10 websites, 50000 URLs per account as well as 1000 keywords and 10000 backlinks per account.
- "Business" for annually from 1142 USD supports up to 20 websites, 400000 URLs per account as well as 2000 keywords and 20000 backlinks per account.
Sitechecker: Pros & Features
- The Sitechecker creates a detailed report with a lot of useful SEO info.
- You can have a single site (free) or the entire website (subscription) checked.
- The internal and external linking is displayed graphically.
- In the paid version, backlink tracker, ranking check and website monitoring including notifications are also possible.
Checks in the free version only 100 sites .
#6 Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Also with the desktop software Screaming Frog SEO Spider (mostly just called "Screaming Frog" by users) broken links can be found for free. The installation is possible on Windows, Ubuntu and macOS. Once the software is installed, you can start immediately.
At the top of the main window you will find an input field. Enter the URL of your website there and click on "Start". A short time later, the central area fills up with addresses. The pie chart at the bottom right shows the respective proportions of correct and incorrect links. Above the diagram is an overview of the status codes. By clicking on "Client Error (4xx)" under "Response Codes" you can filter for broken links. At the bottom left of the window you will find the tab "Inlinks". Here you can see the links to the 404-sites and further information.
How the search for broken links looks like in the tools itself, you can see in the following video:
The free version of Screaming Frog offers a check of up to 500 sites and basic features. Significantly more SEO features and unlimited checks are included in the premium version.
Screaming Frog: Pros & Features
- Performs comprehensive linking and performance checks.
- Analysis and evaluation in real time
- Search for user-defined strings possible.
- Is relatively slow for very large websites.
- The free version only checks 500 sites .
#7 WordPress plugin "Rank Math"
Rank Math has become the standard in free WordPress SEO-Plugins alongside Yoast SEO. It comes with 15 modules including structured data, local SEO, sitemaps, WooCommerce, integration with Google Search Console and the 404 Monitor which acts as a broken link checker.
In the menu under "Rank Math" and "404 Monitor" a simple mode and an advanced mode can be set. In simple mode, only URL, hits (the number of times an incorrect URL was called) and access time are recorded. The advanced mode offers more information like referrer and user agent.
Rank Math automatically creates an error log with 404 errors. The referrer column (only in the advanced mode) shows where the broken link is located and allows a quick correction. How you can best remove broken links with Rank Math, you will learn in this tutorial.
Rank Math: Pros & Features
- Comprehensive plugin with numerous modules for fast WordPress SEO
- Convenient user interface
- Broken Link Checks are configurable.
- Faulty links are displayed directly in WordPress .
- Integration with many other tools.
- Data from Yoast SEO can be imported.
- No Flesch Reading Index
- If you want to monitor several websites centrally, this is plugin not an optimal solution.
Which SEO plugin is the right one for you?
Want to learn more about the most popular SEOPlugins for WordPress ? Then check out our detailed Yoast SEO vs Rank Math comparison.
#8 WordPress plugin "Broken Link Checker"
The WordPress -Plugin Broken Link Checker, while free, popular and easy to use, may gobble up a lot of system resources, slowing down your website. With the above ways to find broken links, there is no compelling reason to use this Plugin . If you do want to use it, enable it only for the error scan and then disable it again.
After installing the plugin you will find a new entry "Broken Links" in the WordPress menu under "Tools". By clicking on it you will see the current list of broken links. Next to the URL you will get more information about the status, link text and source. If you move the mouse over one of these entries, a menu will appear below the URL. There you can edit, update and check the link again.
Broken Link Checker plugin: Pros & Features
- Convenient way to detect broken link errors directly in WordPress.
- Easy to set up
- May severely affect the performance of the WordPress site.
Conclusion: Eliminate Broken Link Error
The above-mentioned tools are useful to detect broken link errors. Instead of checking every subpage manually, you take a broken link checker and let it do the annoying job automatically. With the results you know where there is room for improvement. Now all you need to do is correct your broken 4xx links or, in case of 5xx errors, correct them on the server side. If you create a certain routine for this, correcting the broken links will have a positive effect on your entire ranking at Google and Co. Good luck!