Those of us who try to run our sites on a tight, not to mention non-existent SEO budget, have to keep our sites as ‘clean’ as possible to avoid upsetting the search engines.
Changes to the web spiders of the major search engines come and go and start a flurry of research and recriminations each time they do, but one thing remains as a constant: spiders hate sloppy sites full of HTML errors, spelling mistakes, and broken links.
This last, broken links, are an ever-present problem on any site that grows, organically or otherwise. The problem comes from two main areas:
Internal – Changes you make on your own site, when, perhaps as the site grows you change the name of a page, or maybe delete it. Then all inward links will be broken unless you have an active programme of searching for inward links and amending them.
External – links to other sites which come and go. These are more difficult because you have no notion that they’ve gone.
Links from imported content like that from EzineArticles can be an issue there as the rules say that if you keep the content you must keep the link – broken or not
Still, as is often the case, the internet creates a problem and the internet solves it. Googling “free link checker tool” produces 9.25m hits, not all of them, by any means, truly relevant. (If the search engines are so choosy about broken links how can they serve up so many irrelevant hits?) Even so there are literally dozens of really useful link checkers available.
So how do we choose? Well here’s the beginning of a check-list for you, in no particular order.
Do they check just the landing page you ask them to check or the whole site?
How clear is their indication of the broken link? Do they show:
The page on which the error occurs?
An alternative view of the coding with the broken link identified?
Can you set it just to find the broken link and exclude the ‘warnings’?
Then there is the choice between ‘on-line’ checkers and freeware or open source down load packages. The choice here depends on your circumstance.
If you have a small site with not too many links then on-line checkers are probably best: you don’t clutter up your PC with rarely used software. They give you the freedom to check out site wherever you are and whatever computer you use to run a check.
However, if you have a large site and need to run checks deep into the structure, then you’re better served with a downloaded package that can run an extensive search in the background while you work on some other task without having to worry that the internet link may be broken or time-out.