Broken URLs reflect badly on your website. It can be a frustrating experience for visitors who are stopped in their tracks by a 404 error, and it could also harm your site's search engine optimization (SEO). Broken links may even result in lost revenue if affiliate URLs on your blog don’t lead anywhere.
Discovering and removing bad links is a simple way to ensure that your website is consistent and reliable. Fortunately, there are a number of web-based tools and plugins to help you easily weed out broken URLs. This means you don't have to search for them manually.
In this post, we'll discuss the causes of broken links and the impact they have on your website. Then we'll show you 5 link auditing tools you can use to get rid of them. Let's get to work!
What Causes Broken Links (and Why It’s Vital to Fix Them)
A broken link is a dead URL that no longer directs to the right place (or anywhere at all). Your website probably contains a lot of links to both your own content and to other websites. Over time, it's normal for pages to be moved, renamed, or deleted. Visitors who click on old links to those pages may encounter 404 Page Not Found errors:
It is important to regularly check the health of your links, as broken ones can result in a poor user experience. Outdated URLs may stop visitors from returning to your website and damage your credibility. They can also hurt your search rankings, resulting in less organic traffic. Moreover, you may lose money if affiliate links point to the wrong place.
If you do need to make changes to your site, you can safeguard against broken links proactively by redirecting your pages correctly. You can also regularly perform content audits on your WordPress site, to ensure that you are continuously generating traffic and expanding your reach.
How to Health-Check Your URLs (5 Link Auditing Tools)
Unfortunately, even if you take the precautions mentioned above, broken links are bound to happen once in a while. With that in mind, here are five tools that can help you find and fix them.
1. Pretty Links
There’s a reason Pretty Links is known for all-in-one link management. It’s because our plugin truly does it all when it comes to managing your links – the good ones and the bad ones.
The Link Health feature in Pretty Links runs weekly scans on your WordPress site to look for and report any broken links. If it does happen to find a broken link, you’ll receive an email notification where you can then go in and fix the link instantly.
Link Health also pinpoints your high-performing links first, that way you can get them fixed before your readers click through to a dreadful 404 page.
While this article does promise 6 link auditing tools, why purchase and install another plugin when Pretty Links can do it all! In addition to broken link repair, Pretty Links also offers:
- Link Shortening. Shrink links so they’re easier to share, without losing brand awareness. That’s right! You can still keep your brand name in the shortened URL.
- Link Tracking. Keep track of every click to get a better understanding of how your audience engages with your content and where you’re getting more conversions.
- Link Redirection. Create a variety of link redirects to fit your needs, including permanent (301) and temporary (307).
- Automatic URL & Keyword Replacement. Add affiliate links to your keywords automatically to increase your click-through commissions.
See what all Pretty Links can do for you, without ever having to leave your WordPress site! Plans start at just $79 per year.
2. Broken Link Checker
Broken Link Checker has a few similar qualities that almost match up to Pretty Links, including WordPress dashboard reports and notification alerts. However, adding this third-party plugin does more than crowd up space on your server, it also slows your site down tremendously.
Unlike Pretty Links’ more efficient once a week scan, the Broken Link Checker plugin is constantly running on your site. It’s recommended that you deactivate the plugin when you’re not using it – which is a lot more work for you going back and forth.
Additional features include:
- Link tracking: Identifies bad external and internal links, missing images, and redirects across all pages, posts, and comments.
- Easy search for links: Searches and filters links by URL or anchor text, which you can then edit directly from your dashboard.
- Prevents search engines from following broken links: Helps with SEO and ranking on search engine results pages.
Using the Broken Link Checker plugin is cost-effective, as it is free to download.
The next closest thing you’ll get to all-in-one link management are these next two plugins. We’ll start with SEMrush.
SEMrush is a popular online marketing platform that offers a comprehensive toolset primary used for keyword research and online ranking. When it comes to checking for broken links, its Site Audit Tool can help you out a little bit.
Key features of the SEMrush Site Audit Tool include:
- Thematic reports: An Internal Linking Report finds any issues and carefully organizes link structure.
- Progress tracking: Tracks your site's health and catches any upcoming issues.
- Site migration workflow: Offers crawling by URL lists, and exporting of URLs for easy redirect mapping.
The biggest limitation, however, is the 100 link checker limit. Anything over that, you’ll need to purchase a pricey subscription from plans starting at $99.95 per month.
Key features of the Ahrefs Broken Link Checker too includes:
- Locating dead links: Both inbound and outbound bad links are quickly located so you can fix them.
- Scheduled link scans: Runs daily, weekly, or monthly site crawls.
- Identify competitors' broken pages: Allows you to redirect competitors' dead pages to similar content of your own.
You can use the Broken Link Checker for free. But to access additional Ahrefs features, pricing starts at $99, with a seven-day trial period available for $7.
5. Screaming Frog
Next on our list, Screaming Frog is a desktop SEO software that can help you locate broken links. Once you've downloaded the SEO Spider Tool, all you need to do is add your website's URL. You will then be able to filter out the 404 pages to find problem links.
Key features include:
- Finding broken links: Crawls your website to find broken links and server errors to fix.
- Audit redirects: Helps find temporary and permanent redirects, and can search for a list of URLs in a site migration.
- Scheduled audits: Crawls can be set to run at chosen intervals, and auto-exports crawl data anywhere, such as Google Sheets.
Using links throughout your website is an effective way to boost your SEO and traffic. However, in order to see the best results, you should ensure that your URLs actually work. Checking for broken links regularly will help you maintain your site's performance and ensure a strong user experience, so visitors will keep coming back for more.
The good news is that you don't have to do the work manually. We have highlighted five link auditing tools you can use to address broken URLs:
- Pretty Links: Offers a variety of features for link management, with customizable tools.
- Broken Link Checker: Scans your site for broken links regularly.
- SEMrush: Quickly scans your site for broken links and other errors.
- Ahrefs: Identifies competitors' broken pages, so you can take advantage of content gaps.
- Screaming Frog: Provides a variety of filters, including the ability to search for a list of specific broken URLs.
Do you have any questions about health-checking your site's URLs? Let us know in the comments section below!