Broken links aka. dead links on a site are bad. They may adversely affect the user experience as well as the search engine rankings of your site. It is recommended by experts that checks and fixes should be made for such links on a regular basis.

What are broken links?

If you’re not aware of the term, a broken or dead link on a web page is the hyperlink which refers to the page that does not exist. Visiting such links produces HTTP 404 errors. In simple words, broken links on a website are the “not working” or invalid URLs.

check broken links in website

Why broken links are bad?

In context to effective web publishing, broken links leave a bad impression on the visitors and so on search engines. If not avoided, they may cause a link rot on your website. Here are some important points that throw more light on how bad are dead links and why should we avoid them:

  • Bad impression and degraded user experience: Broken links on a website directly affect the user experience. When users discover a link as broken, they look for the alternatives somewhere else. That particular page becomes less useful in the eyes of users and search engines.
  • Bad Search engine interaction: A page containing dead links is not a search engine friendly document. Dead links always return 404 errors that cause search engine spiders to discontinue the path causing a loss in search juice.
  • Bad image as a publisher: The objective to give links in articles and posts is to help the readers to easily reach the related things. But if you made a typo while doing so, that’s not going to help your readers. Many dead links reflect a bad image of a publisher in front of his/her readers. So, one should be careful while giving links and should check them before publishing the content.

Checking broken links in a website

If you have an extremely new website containing a small number of posts and pages, you could perform a manual check. But if you have a moderately big website with hundreds of pages, I recommend you to use these online tools or software apps:

  1. Google Webmaster Tools

    GWT is a recommended service to manage a website’s functioning on the searches. Along with the regular details on crawling, indexing and search performance of your website, it also lists the internal “Not found” pages. You can fix those 404 pages, or can even remove them from SERPs using the “Remove URLs” option. However, it doesn’t list external dead links.

    google webmaster tools broken links
  2. Xenu Link Sleuth

    This ultimate software program asks for a website URL to fetch the link details about it. It works really smooth when you want the results very quickly. It processes the links of the entered website very quickly and displays results in colors indicating the active, dead and timed out links.

    xenu link sleuth broken links

    Once the broken links are detected, you can fix or remove them by going directly to the referring posts and pages accordingly.

    It can also generate reports after completing the scan which requires the FTP details – but it is completely optional. You can use this application regardless of what platform you use for blogging or managing your content.

  3. If you don’t want to install a software, you should make use of some free online link checker services like W3C Link Checker, Broken Link Check, or iWebTool Broken link checker.

WordPress users can benefit themselves from the Broken link checker plug-in which can help them to monitor links in their posts.