Tools

3 Broken Link Checkers Reviewed and Compared

Diagnosing the site for broken links and fixing them is one of the most essential steps in overall SEO audit process.

Broken links are rightfully considered bad for usability and thus affect your SEO because caring abut user experience is search engine’s primary focus.

This post looks at 4 broken link checkers (those 4 were chosen because they all have slight differences which may suit various needs):

XenuLinkAiderW3C Link Checker
TypeDesktopWeb-based (registration required)Web-based (no registration required)
CostFreePaidFree
CheckingThe whole siteThe number of pages specifiedThe page submitted

1.5 star 3 Broken Link Checkers Reviewed and ComparedXenu

Xenu Link Sleuth has already been reviewed by me here, on SEJ. Besides actually checking for broken links the tool has a wide variety of possible uses including page size check, page visibility evaluation and even duplicate content diagnostics.

The report contains the following:

  • Broken links, ordered by link
  • Broken links, ordered by page
  • List of redirected URLs
  • List of valid URLs you can submit to a search engine
  • Site Map of HTML pages with a Title
  • Broken page-local links
  • Orphan files
  • Statistics for managers

xenu report 3 Broken Link Checkers Reviewed and Compared

Benefits:

  • Free;
  • Multi-feature;
  • Reliable

Drawbacks:

  • Problems with reporting for large sites (with me it has been almost impossible to generate the report for a website containing 100 000+ pages)

2. 4 star 3 Broken Link Checkers Reviewed and ComparedLinkAider

LinkAider is free for 500 page crawls every month but I liked its reporting so much that it still receives 4 stars from me. Submit a website URL, specify the number of pages to crawl and basically you are done. Now wait for the tool to complete the task and get a solid report.

Here’s the screenshot of the report summary (naturally, there are also detailed reports for each section or issue):

  • Average link density;
  • The number of external links;
  • The number of internal links;
  • The number of broken links;
  • Top 10 internally linked pages;
  • Top 10 linked hosts;
  • Duplicate page titles;
  • Pages with most of the links;
  • Pages with biggest page size.

linkaider summary 3 Broken Link Checkers Reviewed and Compared

Benefits:

  • One free report;
  • Multi-feature;
  • Web-based (no downloading);

Drawbacks:

  • Paid (minimum $8 per the report)

3. 3 star 3 Broken Link Checkers Reviewed and ComparedW3C Link Checker

W3C Link Checker only checks links on a specified page but it definitely should be bookmarked and referred to for on-page analysis. As a result you will see:

  • The list of broken links and other issues (like server side problems):

w3c link checker errors 3 Broken Link Checkers Reviewed and Compared

  • List of redirected URLs (and their destination page direct URLs) and, what’s is most useful, status codes for both URLs:

w3c link checker redirects 3 Broken Link Checkers Reviewed and Compared

Benefits:

  • Free;
  • Web-based with no registration required;
  • Fast and reliable.

Drawbacks:

  • One-page crawl.

And which broken link checker are you using? Please share!

 3 Broken Link Checkers Reviewed and Compared
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing, tutorials and her guest blogging project, MyBlogGuest.com.
 3 Broken Link Checkers Reviewed and Compared

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12 thoughts on “3 Broken Link Checkers Reviewed and Compared

  1. Thanks for this roundup Ann. We use Xenu regularly and it’s awesome. Although I concur with you on getting stuck on big sites – sometimes it gets in a loop too which can crash the whole system. But it’s the best out there that I’ve come across.

    Another one I think deserves special mention is http://www.linkpatch.com – it’s a user-triggered broken link checker – any time an actual user hits a 404 page, it pings you an email telling you what referring page they came from, their IP, country and browser. It’s awesome. But you do have to pay for it (after the free trial) – well worth it IMO.

  2. Using google webmaster tools to check my links for me. So much better than anything on your list. Nice list anyhow though. Webmaster tools gives you all the 404 and all the pages linking to those 404 so you can fix them or contact them if they’re external. Couldn’t be easier.

  3. Nice reviews. I use webmaster tools and xenu regularly to check for broken links. Xenu is also good for analyzing broken links of authority sites, for link building purposes, then send a friendly email to the authority site mentioning their broken link(s) and ‘subtly’ suggest an alternative (i.e. my link) to use.

  4. I’ve recently started using Link Examiner. It’s a pretty solid little tool with some really cool features. In the past I would use Xenu regularly or just use Google Webmaster Tools for crawl errors.

    The nice thing about Link Examiner is that it shows you error codes, gives you some SEO info (Is it missing titles, descriptions, etc.). What I like most about it is that it lets you right click on a link and you have the options to open it in a browser, copy it to your clipboard, view a list of all pages that link to the page reporting an error, etc. And if you need to provide the data to someone else, like a web designer or your boss, whoever it also has a nice little reporting feature which let’s you export the list of links to text, CSV, and HTML files.

    It’s a nice little tool if you are looking for something that is free and reliable.

  5. The SEO plugin for IIS 7 that was released to beta a few months ago searches for broken links for you among several other things. You need to have IIS 7 obviously, but it works on any site, not just those hosted on your IIS server. You just give it the URL and how many links to crawl, and it goes at it. It isn’t quick, but the report appears to work with any sized site and is free if you have IIS. You can export the report to a CSV which you can then work with in Excel as well.

  6. Yea, more than the main three should be reviewed here, as well as some actual review standards. What do we, as optimizers, need from these sites? Does the site provide this? What does one do that that others should? Etc?

  7. To Ann:
    The problem with getting stuck in huge sites is related to the sitemap. Since version 1.3 (20.12.2008), Xenu has an abort box there. (Of course you can also disable the sitemap) Obviously, a 100000 URL site would have a huge sitemap.

    To Jaamit:
    Contact me if you think you can reproduce this (send me a .XEN file that is shortly before it crashes)… Xenu should definitvely not crash the whole system, because it doesn't do any low level stuff.

  8. To Ann:
    The problem with getting stuck in huge sites is related to the sitemap. Since version 1.3 (20.12.2008), Xenu has an abort box there. (Of course you can also disable the sitemap) Obviously, a 100000 URL site would have a huge sitemap.

    To Jaamit:
    Contact me if you think you can reproduce this (send me a .XEN file that is shortly before it crashes)… Xenu should definitvely not crash the whole system, because it doesn't do any low level stuff.

  9. Surely I’ll go for Xenu Broken Link Checker, I don’t know when but I found it downloaded on my hard drive and just finished insatalling ! Let’s see how it works and is it worth using or not. Thanks Ann Smarty for reviewing this….