3 Ways to Find Broken Links on Your Website
We've all been there - clicking a link while browsing online, only to land on that dreaded 404 "page not found" screen. As annoying as it is for us website visitors, it's even more frustrating for website owners. Broken links create a lousy user experience that can drive visitors away and hurt your business.
The good news? Broken links are fixable if you know how to find them. In this article, we'll explore 3 simple tactics to track down dead links on your site so you can get back to smooth browsing.
Tactic #1: Browser Extensions
The quickest way to check links on a specific page is to use a browser extension. There are various options available - I recommend Check My Links. Just install it, browse to any web page, and click the extension icon. It will automatically scan all links on the page, highlighting any broken ones in red. Green links are valid and redirects may be in other colors.
If you spot red, you can quickly troubleshoot that individual link. (this method is ideal for a quick spot check.)
Tactic #2: Website Crawlers
For a more in-depth scan of multiple or all pages, use a website crawler tool like the free version of Screaming Frog. Paste in a section or all of a site's URLs, hit crawl, and broken links will surface along with the associated page.
Look for status codes like 404 or 410 - those indicate broken links. Click the "inlinks" button to see which page the broken link is on, then go fix it. The anchor text also tells you the linked text to search for.
Crawlers give you a bird's-eye view of link issues across sections or entire websites. (this is the most thorough method, however, some people find tools like Screaming Frog a little more complicated!)
Tactic #3: Google Analytics
Finally, use Google Analytics to assess if broken links are impacting users. Under Engagement, go to Pages & Screens. Add Page Title as a second dimension.
Search for your common 404 page title like "Page Not Found". See how often it appears. It shows if broken links are a true problem.
(The above instructions are for GA4, not Universal Analytics. There are a lot of differences between the two including how they calculate basic metrics like bounce rate.)
While you should fix all broken links found, analytics provides perspective on their real user impact.
Broken links negatively impact site visitors. Using browser extensions, website crawlers, and Google Analytics, you can swiftly track down dead links and breathe new life into your website. Give one or all tactics a try - your users will thank you with happier browsing and more engagement over the long haul.
BONUS: Now that you have checked to see if your website has broken links, check to see if Google is properly indexing your website!
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