Bad links: Find em, squash em!

Everybody dreads it. It’s a nightmare. It’s a bad experience for your site visitors.

Google certainly does not. It recommends checking your website for broken links and improper content regularly. Manual checking would prove cumbersome leading us to come up with a few aces up our sleeve to deploy. These are the tools which can help:

Xenu’s Link Sleuth

Xenu’s Link Sleuth is a free Windows app that scans entire sites for broken links. Add in the URL and we are done for the day.

It runs an exhaustive scan which prowls for broken links, frames, images, stylesheets, scripts and backgrounds.

It has other uses beyond being just a scanner. Xenu can aid in helping you weed out duplicate content, page depth and so forth which makes it quite an arsenal.

W3C Link Checker

The W3C Link Checker tool digs through links (obviously!) and provides you with information that it has unearthed.

You can (and should) set a limit on how deep the tool digs. Otherwise you’ll find it keeps going. And going. And going.

Broken Link Checker

Broken Link Checker monitors links in your pages, comments, posts, and even custom fields.

Should it spot an error, it will alert you via the WordPress site plugin.

Unfortunately, Broken Link Checker is infamous for using humongous resources slow down your site. Should you decide to go for it, be prepared for a bogged down website until it completes its diagnostics.

Does that mean it’s a bad plugin? Not at all! Check it out.

Google Webmaster Tools

Authentication by Google Webmaster Tools is the best way to understand how your site is perceived by Google.

When Google spots out broken links on your site, you’ll be notified through the Webmaster Tools dashboard which has been made a little more “readable” thanks to the recent updates.

Screaming Frog SEO Spider

Screaming Frog is a standalone desktop app for Ubuntu, Mac, and Windows. Add in the URL and it’ll retrieve the relevant info you need.

Unlike Xenu’s Link Sleuth, Screaming Frog is comprehensively recommended for site optimization. It dives deeper into page-level elements like meta data and page titles.

Screaming Frog’s free version has a limitation on the number of pages which can be crawled through. The Licensed version removes that limit, unlocks all configuration options, allows saving/uploading of crawls, adds source code search, and includes customer support.


Lastly, LinkChecker validates websites.

Being the most technical option in our top five list, it sports a command line interface, desktop app, and web app.

We are yet to try it ourselves but rumors have it that power users would love it.

Which tool is best among them all?

That depends on your needs and wants. Consider:

  • How complex is your website? Large website requires more resources which could prove cumbersome to a mere plugin tool.
  • What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to scout bad links or hope to improve your website ratings by weeding out more of the bad code?
  • How frequently are you running scans? Is this a recurring task or a one-time audit?

In our opinion: Xenu’s Link Sleuth is the priority for Windows users, while Screaming Frog SEO Spider comes up as runner-up .

Author Bio : James Jones is A Search Expert at SEO Company Guru. He is passionate about Technology and loves to write about Digital Marketing, Technology and Inbound, from time to time.