404 Error pages are not only bad for search engine, it also gives bad user-experience. In the past, I have talked about many tools and websites, which will let you find broken links on your blog, and fix it. Be it a small-website, or a large-website, finding and fixing such 404 error links are part of monthly SEO audit. For WordPress, we have broken link checker WordPress plugin, which works great to find and fix links with few clicks. For other platform, here are list of online broken link checker websites. One of the biggest limitation of these online site are, they are limited to certain number of pages, or links, and thus for a large website, it might not be a perfect solution.
Similarly, if you have an old WordPress blog, broken link checker plugin might not be the best solution, as it’s memory hogging, and might bring your WordPress blog down. When ever I run broken link checker plugin on ShoutMeLoud, my WordPress starts showing errors, and I had to find something better. Integrity is one of the the best desktop app for Mac, which will let you find broken links and also links with other status codes.
How to use Integrity to find broken links on your Website:
Integrity is a free Mac desktop app, and is available via app store or you can directly download .dmg file from developer website over here. What is great about this app is, it’s free and you can use it for large websites. Before, I will share quick guide on how to use Integrity, let’s look at some of the features of integrity:
- Works perfectly with huge websites,without slowing it down.
- Also check for broken images
- Check for internal and external links
- Setting panel to control the crawling, and other things like number of threads.
- Export reports in .pdf format
To get started, download the Integrity Mac app from developer website over here, and install it. Once you have downloaded and installed the app, simply open it, add your domain URL, and make the settings as shown in figure.
Make sure you select the option which says “ignore query strings” to avoid crawling of URL parameters link (Ex: replytocom links). If you want to ignore crawling and checking of particular directory of your website, you can use blacklist and whitelist rules. You can get a complete details of settings and options, over here. Now, click on Go, and integrity will start checking your website for any broken links.
Depending upon the size of your Website, this tool might take hours to complete the report. You have various option to sort the results, or you can only check bad links, by selecting the option on report page. I prefer to sort results by clicking on “by page” option at the top, as this will quickly help me to get rid of broken links on a particular page.
This is certainly one of the best free SEO tool to find broken links of a large website. The only limitation is, this is Mac only app. For other platform, you can try Minalyzer, which is free for first month only.
In my case study of recovering from Google Panda penalty, I already mentioned that fixing broken link is a critical part of recovery process, and if you website/blog is penalized by Panda, it’s a good idea to get rid of all 404 error links (Internal and external).
Bonus Tip for WordPress blogs:
For a huge WordPress blog, it might be too much of task to edit all posts/pages/comments to get rid of such links. If I would be you, I will start with fixing all internal 404 links, and then start with external links. Even links in comments are part of your page, so you need to get rid of them. Here is a quick tip, which will help you to get rid of broken links in comment forms. Once, you have run the integrity tool, find a comment link which is broken, Go to WordPress Dashboard > Comments, and search for comments using search form. Now, simply click on “X” to get rid of such links. This is useful for blogs, who have thousands of comments, and many broken links.
The process is not as easy as using broken link checker plugin, but when BLC doesn’t work for your WordPress blog, this is one of the best free option you got. I hope this will be helpful for those users, who are looking bets free solution to find broken links on a huge website. If you know of similar free tools, do let me know via comments. If you find this app useful, do consider sharing it on Google plus and Facebook.