How To Find Broken Links On Your Website

Utilizing Online Tools to Find Broken Links on Your Website

On this episode of Local SEO Tactics, Bob and Jesse discuss an array of tools available to find broken links on your website, and the value of fixing these links to helping your search engine rankings. Depending on your industry and the complexity of your website, you may have to comb for broken links on your website more often. With these tools, this task will be made way less daunting!
Listen today to learn more about these tools and how to improve your SEO through repairing your links.

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What you’ll learn

  • Why it’s important to check for dead links regularly.
  • What tools are available to check for those links.
  • How removing dead links can improve your website’s search engine ranking!

Transcript for Episode 91:

Caleb Baumgartner: Welcome to Local SEO Tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get bound online. I am producer Caleb Baumgartner here to introduce you to today’s informative episode. We’ve talked before about the importance of fixing dead links on your website, but how do you find them? In this episode, Jesse and Bob help you find and fix dead links to improve your website SEO and provide a solid foundation to build on. Thank you for checking out Local SEO Tactics and enjoy the show.

Jesse Dolan: Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I’m your host, Jesse Dolan here as always with Bob Brennan.

Bob Brennan: Cheers.

Jesse Dolan: How’s it going, Bob?

Bob Brennan: Excellent. How are you doing?

Jesse Dolan: Not too bad. You have a St Patrick’s day hangover here. Are you recording the day after? Everything going good?

Bob Brennan: I think my last St Patrick’s Day deal was probably 2012, I think. And it was a weird day in Minnesota. It was an 80 degree day in middle of March, which is pretty unusual when people run around in their shorts and stuff like that. I think it brought out the savage in everybody because I remember that day distinctly, because it was a Minnesota wild game, Minnesota Gophers… might even been hockey day or some weird deal like that.

And so, again, just all these people, St. Patrick’s day and then they’re going to a hockey game and for Minnesota that’s a just strange combination.

Jesse Dolan: You’ve got a good Irish name, so do I. We both got some Irish in our backgrounds, my family, we haven’t done it. My wife and I, part of the family, haven’t done this for a couple of years, but everybody gets together. We go bar hopping, drink green beer, play pull tabs, just run a muck for the day and show everybody why we’re Irish apparently is the reason, but I’ll tell you what? That day, that year is epic in our family lore too because what a gorgeous day. People wearing shorts. I think we ended our day… I forget which golf course, somewhere in the North side of the twin cities, but playing like mini putt out on the lawn and stuff, like are you kidding me? This is the middle of March. It was the best day ever. But yeah, it’s all about the green beer, at least as far as that goes.
And for the record, we crushed it on pull tabs that year too. So nothing better than reinvesting your hard earned pull tab money back into green beer and drink it on the 80 degree patio.

Bob Brennan: When you can drink for free, it’s always fun right?

Jesse Dolan: Exactly. It’s fun for that day. Not so much for the next day. All right. Well, let’s jump into the episode here. We’re going to be talking today, continuing off our last episode, things related to an SEO audit, right? I’m not talking about Google My Business, not talking about reviews, not even any real big hack or trick for your site, more foundational, making sure that your website is up to speed.

So we’re going to be going through a bunch of different elements, things that we do when we do a comprehensive SEO audit for a new client before we do any real SEO work. First things first, make sure you’ve got a good foundation and you’re not throwing good money after bad. Last episode on this topic, we talked about broken links on your website, whether they be internal links or external links. Basically is something that you want to take care of. So if you haven’t listened to that, check that out. It’s kind of a precursor to what we’re going to talk about here today, which is how to find those broken links.

Before we get into that, I do want to mention, we’ve got Terry Samuels coming up here in a couple more episodes. He’s going to be talking more about schema. Terry was on a number of weeks ago in a two-part interview talking about schema, what it is, why it’s important to you. And he’s coming back on again, to answer your questions and dive into schema. If you have any questions, if you want to know more about schema whether it’s super basic beginner or advanced or anything in between, we want to know that and Terry wants to answer your questions. You can send them over at localseotactics.com/schema. And we’d like to get a few more. So if there’s something in your craw, again, don’t be embarrassed if you think it’s super basic. We’d love to hear it. And Terry is going to be able to answer them.

So go on out again localseotactics.com/schema, and send us your questions there. And of course, use our free instant SEO audit tool. Whether you have already or haven’t yet, you can keep using it as many times as you want. It’s totally free. Check out your site. You can check out a competitor’s site. If you want to reverse engineer what they’re doing, see how they stack up against you. Just plug in your webpage, plug in the keyword that you want to run it against. Takes a few seconds. It’ll turn out a PDF that it’s going to email to you and you can take that and run with it. It’s got a punch list, a bunch of different scoring, really easy to read and a great place to start your SEO journey. So check that out too, localseotactics.com. Look for the yellow button that says free instant audit or something like that. I think I got the words wrong there, but you’ll see what I’m talking about when you get there.

All right, so let’s jump into it here. Like I said, the previous topic that we’re piggybacking on is the internal links of your website. I shouldn’t phrase it like that. I’m sorry. Broken links on pages on your website, whether they be internal, linking back to pages within your website or external, linking out to some third-party website that’s not yours. This is not to be clear. Again, this is not the topic of backlinks, so a link coming from another website to yours. This is all about links that are on your website pointing somewhere else, identifying broken ones, fixing broken ones and things like that. So what we’re going to be talking about here today real quick is just a number of different tools or processes that you can use to discover those broken links.

I think we ended up the last episode, Bob, you were asking about how often you should do this as a process. Okay. So if we know that broken links are bad and we have to fix them with routing to the proper page or maybe setting up a redirect so it’s not a broken link anymore, that’s all fine and dandy, but how do we discover that we have these and how frequently should we be looking for these things? So I’m going to pick up right there basically. As we’ve talked last time, the more complex your marketing, your niche is, the more content you’re managing, manipulating, editing on your website, the more frequently you’re going to want to do these checks. It could be a weekly thing, could be a monthly thing. If you really don’t ever touch your website for updating it or putting any new information on there, check it every six months at least. I wouldn’t go necessarily further than that, but-

Bob Brennan: Is there a caveat to just like… Obviously, if there’s a rank position loss or anything like that, this is one of the things you’re going to check, right?

Jesse Dolan: Sure. Yeah. Overall, if you don’t have it into some kind of a discipline to do on a recurring basis, adding this as part of your things you check if something goes wrong, absolutely. If you’re ranking on a page is dropping, I’d check that page. Does it have any broken links? Yeah, it’s easy to do. I wouldn’t say that it’s probably like the A1 cause of any time you get a ranking dip by any means, but it sure is easy to check. So yeah. So first things first, not to be too self-serving here, but we do offer this as a service as far as how to find these links, right? As I mentioned, kind of to kick it off, if a client signs up with us and says, “Hey, I want to use you for SEO,” the first thing we do is this comprehensive SEO audit, looking at the front end, the backend, getting into every nook and cranny of the website.

If it’s something that Rethink or the industry thinks is kind of related to SEO and ranking, it’s something that we audit and check off on the list. One of those items is this finding of the broken links, right? So for the answer of how do you find and uncover these links? If you wanted to employ us for a comprehensive SEO audits, you’re going to get that as part of the package. If you’re just looking for some tools to kind of go out there and do it yourself, I’m going to rattle off kind of a number of them here that are all fairly similar. There’s going to be some that I don’t mention that if you just right now and do a Google search on broken link checker or internal link checker, or variations like that, you’re going to run into a whole bunch of tools.

There’s a bunch of small like specialty tools, I guess you might call them that are kind of one-off. They only do this thing that you’re going to find. I’m not going to mention any of those. We haven’t tested a lot of those out, so I don’t want to maybe push somebody to a tool that isn’t totally vetted. So I’m only going to mention some of the big like established industry tools for doing these things, but I’m giving this preface because I don’t want everybody to think like, “These are the only options,” so you just do a Google search, you’re going to find a ton of resources to do this thing that we’re talking about here.

One of the most popular out there is SEMrush, we’re actually an affiliate for SEMrush. If you go to localseotactics.com/resources page, we’ve got a list of various things on that, that we use ourselves that we not only use, but recommend and then are an affiliate for them. SEMrush is one of those. We’ve used it for years. It’s a great tool. Does a ton of stuff, in addition to finding these broken links for you. Ahrefs or ahrefs.com is another popular one, another one that we use ourselves. We don’t have an affiliate link up for that, but again, I highly recommended it. SEMrush and Ahrefs are very similar. They both kind of have pros and cons, maybe certain parts of their overall suite of tools that people will argue about which one’s better for those reasons, but for the purpose of finding broken links within your website, they’re both going to do an outstanding job for you.

I think they both have like a pseudo free plan and then cheaper paid plans. You don’t need the top of the line plans on either one of these to get these tools. And like we talked earlier about about making it automated, I believe still both of these you can set up to have this done every so often, whether it’s weekly, monthly, whatever in an automated way, providing more of an overall audit, not just on these links, some other information too, but this is those two are tools where you can really have that set and forget it function-

Bob Brennan: For an individual company site, whatever the case is, what do you think the low end paid version of these tools are going to run? Is it a monthly fee I assume?

Jesse Dolan: Let’s take a look. I don’t know that offhand.

Bob Brennan: And then you’ve got an agency level version of that that’s going to be more obviously, but then it’s going to, I would assume facilitate a lot of sites, 10 to 30 sites I would assume.

Jesse Dolan: We’re looking here like Ahrefs, they’ve got their light, which is $99 a month, but don’t get me wrong. That’s not super cheap. It’s also not super expensive for all the things that it does.

Bob Brennan: Okay. So it’s not just checking for backlinks. It’s doing other things.

Jesse Dolan: Right. Yep. And then SEMrush, just to give a quick overview of this one as well. So their pro plan is $119 per month and yeah, I guess I’m not going to do a big side-by-side next to them. So they’re both kind of within that same price range, but again, we’re not talking that that’s $99 a month or $1.20 a month just for this broken link checke. There’s a bunch of other tools you’re going to want to use. So those are two I’d say are the most popular overall suites, SEMrush and Ahref. There’s another one that’s very popular out there called Screaming Frog. This does other utilities as well. Again, this isn’t just like a one-off tool for checking these links, but Screaming Frog is excellent for like overall linking profile of your site to really give you an idea of all the content on there, how it links, and a lot of other related things. Very powerful tool. A lot of people use it. You can check that out and we’re going to link to all these also in the show notes page, so just go to localseotactics.com, check out this episode and we’ll link to all of these to make it easy for you as well.

Another one that’s very popular out there is Site Bulb. Site Bulb is also really cool because it gives you like a… when it does this link exploration on your site, this mapping, it’s not just going to find the broken links. It’s also going to find the valid links and Site Bulb gives you a real cool overview like from a top-down look of your website on the link architecture. Yeah, it’s really cool. We’ve talked in various episodes about like siloing of your content. Site Bulb does a really good job of kind of showing you what’s popular content on your website by a way of your internal linking.

If you’ve got 75 pages all linking to this one resource, that must be popular or important on your website, right? So with Sight Bulb through its audit process and checking process, that’s one of the functions that provides is kind of showing you that map of where are the major roadways that connect your content on your website. And that’s usually something interesting if people have never looked at before. You may think that you have this one thing in your website that’s the primary thing you want to sell, that you want to be known for, that you want to push traffic towards. Well, if you find that you don’t have a lot of links or roadways going to that piece of content on your website, but they’re all pointing somewhere else, you might want to kind of think about redoing your strategy there. It’s good insight. So again, all these tools there, I could really go in depth on all of these, but they all do much more than just the one thing we’re talking about, which is identifying those broken links. They’re all going to have strengths, excuse me, and weaknesses in those other areas. All very powerful.
Another thing you can do is use Google Analytics. So I’m going to link to an article here that I think has kind of real good process spelled out already on this. It’s from WordStream. WordStream is a tool, people use it for a Google Ad Words. It helps manage your Google Ad Words campaigns, helps you learn some strategies and kind of not spend a ton of money, learn how to do better Google Ad Words. They had a really good article on how to find and fix broken links on your website using Google Analytics because you and I, Bob, in the previous episode, we talked again about kind of that external linking, like if you had bob’splumbing.com linking to my website to a specific page, if I got rid of that page, but you’re still pushing traffic to it, that’s something that you want to be aware of. That’s something you want to find.

These other tools that I mentioned, what they’re going to do is they’re going to crawl your website. They’re going to find the existing content that’s there right now today and tell you where they hit dead ends, like we were on your blog post page and you linked over to this other page, that link didn’t work. Okay. We’ll fix that. With those tools, you’re kind of blind to this other website, Bob’s Plumbing had a link coming to your site and that link is dead. So what you can do is you can use Google Analytics to identify that, to find out what traffic is coming to your website, but it’s hitting a 404 error. Somebody is looking for this URL, it didn’t exist so they got served up your 404 page and you can get that intelligence, get that information, find out what they were looking for, and then you want to either recreate that page.

So if bob’splumbing.com was linking to a page for some promotion that we had for Bob’s customers, if we took that page down on purpose or on accident, we can just put it right back up to make that link active again and so that’s no longer a 404 or a dead link. The other thing you can do is you can set up a redirect saying, “Okay, we don’t have that special promotion page anymore, but if anybody’s looking for this page, we’re going to redirect them to our homepage or redirect them to our contact page or redirect them to some other sales page,” effectively, still making that link active and work. It doesn’t get to the exact piece of content it did before, but it’s not a dead end anymore. So I’m not going to walk through the guts of it A, just so we don’t plagiarize and steal this content from WordStream and B, because I don’t want to just read it off. That’d be kind of boring to an already dry topic. So check it out on the show notes, localseotactics.com. We’ll link to it. It’s a WordStream article and they just show you how to go into Google Analytics and actually get that set up and look at that data. And that’s going to be pretty valuable for you as well.

Bob Brennan: So if you’re just starting out or on a tight budget, that would be one way to get to that point versus spending $100 a month, right?

Jesse Dolan: Yeah, for sure. Like I said, you can do a quick Google search on just website link checkers and things like that. You’re going to find probably a bunch of tools that’ll do it for free if you’re just looking for a one-off scan like you said on a budget. The tools we’re mentioning here are paid tools, kind of more power tools. They’re ones that we’re familiar with, ones we can stand behind, ones we can endorse. Those other free tools, just haven’t used any of them in years, quite frankly. So I’m not saying that you should shy away from it. To the contrary, if you’re on a budget like you’re saying, Bob, do a Google search, find some tools that are free or free trial and kind of do a one-off deal and also do this Google Analytics checking, and you’re going to get a lot of good information, and then check out our episode that we dropped last time on how to fix these things too.

This here, we’re just talking about how to find them and identify them. The other episode, we talked about what to do once you get them. So hopefully that helps everybody out. It’s a pretty important thing, active links, dead links, things like that. It’s all part of Google’s algorithm for page rank, for backlinking. All these things that we’re familiar with as terms, that’s really what it’s built on and you have to make sure your links are active, people are going to the right spot and it’s good for the Google bot and good for the human beings that actually are trying to navigate your site or come from Bob’s Plumbing to your site in that example too.

Bob Brennan: So if you had to quantify the broken links as a factor, I don’t know how you would score it. In other words, out of 100 points, this is responsible you think for five points? 10 points? I mean, is that a fair-

Jesse Dolan: Yeah. Good question. Yeah. It’s a higher weighted one for sure. Whether it ends up being five or 10 as opposed to one, I guess we’d have to put more thought in that. I see where you’re going with that, but it’s definitely one of the first areas. If I could only check a few things off for SEO, we’re going to check out like your basic on-site stuff. Are you using H1? Like I always say, if you’re trying to be found for red balloons, are you talking about red balloons, some of that foundational on-page SEO. When you get into more of the technical stuff, checking for broken links is probably one of the top three, top five things that we do because of how important it is to crawl in your website to dead ends for the Google bot, dead ends for your clients, your prospects, and just all that.
So definitely ranks up there as one of the things you should be doing, which is why in this mini series about SEO audit type items, this is the first topic. What are these broken links? What do you do with these broken links? How do you fix them and how do you find them? That’s why we’re kicking off there.

Bob Brennan: Cool.

Jesse Dolan: All right. Let’s get into our five star review here for this episode. If you haven’t left us a review yet, we would love to hear from you, go out to localseotactics.com. Down the bottom left corner, click the button for reviews, make it super easy. Can leave a review rate to Google, right to Facebook, Apple podcasts, Stitcher, Google play, whatever your platform of choice. We just love to hear from you and lets us know we’re doing a good job and you’re getting good value out of the show.

This episode here, we’ve got a great five-star review left on… what was this left on our Google My Business listing by Al Boyle. Al says, “Loved the podcast.” I’m sorry. “Loved this podcast. Great insights and actionable information. Most episodes are 30 minutes or less making them easy to consume in one listen.” Thanks Al. It’s something we’ve been trying to do. We cut up that Terry Samuel’s episode into two parts because it got a little long and we get that comment a lot from people that it’s… I check out on my commute, or things like that. So 15 to 20 minutes, we’re trying to get to be our kind of our sweet spot and bring some actionable insight for you guys. So I think that about does it. Bob, for this episode, do you have any closing thoughts?

Bob Brennan: No, I think that’s all helpful. I’m looking forward to the other audit processes that we go through to help people out with their sites. And I think it’s going to help our listeners.

Jesse Dolan: Absolutely. I’ll do one more plug for… If anybody out there is listening, if you’ve got a question on this topic, something similar, something you’ve been wondering about, is it important for your site and schema? Like I said, on the front side of this episode, just drop us a line. We’re looking for feedback all the time on what should we be talking about in the show, what questions do you have, in the case of schema, what questions do you have about schema for Terry Samuel’s directly, but really anything. If this spurred some kind of thought in your mind, that’s what we’re here for. Not just to come up with topics that we think are important, but that feedback from everyone listening, so go into localseotactics.com and you can contact us in many ways. They’re down at the bottom, depending on what angle that you’re looking for. All right. We can wrap it up for this one. Thanks for hanging Bob. Appreciate the conversation. Hope that was good for everybody and catch you guys all next time.

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