Good links are 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 budget of Google, Bing and Co. – because instead of a 404 page the crawler could have indexed a functioning page. We'll show you how broken link checker tools help you to get these problems under control.
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 keep track of your ranking?
How to perform a comprehensive SEO audit of your website in 8 steps, Dominik Stein explains in this article.
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 by Ryte
The comprehensive website optimization tool called Ryte is divided into three modules: Website Success, Content Success and Search Success. In the module Website Success you will find the broken link checker under Links → Status Codes.
The link status is displayed immediately. Broken links are marked red as 4xx and 5xx. 4xx errors are "not found", while 5xx errors are server errors. Click on the red bar to view the broken links.
If you have a lot of results, you can use a filter, for example to display only internal links. To activate a filter, click on "New filter" at the top of the screen and select "Domain (link destination)". Then select "contains" and enter your domain name. Then click on "Save and close". Now only internal broken links are displayed.
Scope and tariffs of the tool: Ryte offers in the free version an SEO crawl with up to 100 URLs and 5 quick checks per month. With Ryte you get access to the broken link checker and many other tools that support your website.
The fee-based 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. A tailor-made solution will then 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 sites crawl 100
#2 Google Search Console
The Google Search Console (GSC) is one of the best free SEO tools around. However, many website operators do not even know how much valuable information is hidden in the Search Console data. Because: The GSC not only helps you to diagnose SEO problems, but above all it helps you to analyze your content and improve your organic traffic. Marketing guru Neil Patel explains how to use the Search Console data correctly to increase your traffic in this article.
According to Google's own description you can use the 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 to check your links (and all other GSC features), all you need to do is register briefly and verify your site.
On the left site is the menu item called "Cover". Click on it to display further entries such as "Details". Under "Redirection errors", tabs show both 404 and server errors.
Below the diagram you will find a list with further information for broken links found. This can be filtered and downloaded. By clicking on one of these broken links, a window appears, where further details like the source URLs are displayed.
Google Search Console: Pros & Features
- Extensive SEO tools that help to discover optimization potential.
- Can be integrated with many external tools, including Google Analytics
If you don't feel like clicking your way through comprehensive SEO tools, there is an easier way. At BrokenLinkCheck.com you enter the URL of your website, click a button and the service checks up to 3,000 sites free of charge. If you need more, you can request an offer from the operator via 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
- Creates 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 as easy to use as BrokenLinkCheck.com. However, there are three modes to choose from: Besides the standard Site Check to check the whole website or a single subpage, you can choose between "Multi Check" for multiple websites and "Auto Check" for the regular automatically initiated check. In the free variants, 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 by clicking. This is followed by a list with the incorrect URLs.
The "Multi Check" is also free, but requires an account. The regular "Auto Checker", on the other hand, is subject to a fee 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 placeholders
- The test procedure can be paused and continued
- The process is accelerated by examining several links at once
- The scan depth is limited to 10 links.
- Subdomains count as separate websites.
The Sitechecker is a straightforward choice for exposing broken links. Simply enter the domain on the main page and an investigation will be conducted. This is followed by a detailed report and problems in the site structure and 404 errors are highlighted. In the free version 100 sites can be checked. 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 fares 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 information.
- You can have an individual site website (free of charge) or the entire website (subscription) checked.
- The internal and external links are 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 (usually just called "Screaming Frog" by users) you can find broken links 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 will be filled with addresses. The pie chart at the bottom right shows the percentage of correct and incorrect links. Above the diagram there 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 in the tool itself looks like, you can see in the following video:
The free version of Screaming Frog offers a review 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 character strings possible.
- Is relatively slow for very large websites.
- In the free version only 500 are sites checked.
#7 WordPress plugin "Rank Math"
Rank Math has become one of the standard 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 a faulty 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 (advanced mode only) shows where the broken link is located, allowing quick correction. For information on how to remove broken links with Rank Math, see in this tutorial.
Rank Math: Pros & Features
- Comprehensive plugin with numerous modules for fast WordPress SEO
- Comfortable user interface
- Broken link checks are configurable.
- Faulty links are displayed directly inWordPress .
- 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?
You want to learn more about the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress? Then have a look at our detailed Yoast SEO vs. Rank Math comparison .
#8 WordPress plugin "Broken Link Checker"
That WordPress plugin Broken Link Checker is free, popular and easy to use, but it needs a lot of system resources, which can slow down your website. With the above-mentioned ways to find broken links, there is no convincing reason to use this plugin. If you do want to use it, just enable it for the error scan and disable it again afterwards.
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: Fix 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!