Internal links are ones that link to your website's other pages. For example, links to navigate one page to the next are internal links. A broken link would make it more difficult to navigate through your website.
External links are ones that link to domains outside of your website. For example, a link that links to an article at Wikipedia from your website's webpage is an external link. Because websites constantly change, you could be leading your website visitors to defunct websites or to non-relevant webpages if you do not routinely check to see if your external links work.
|Does this look familiar? A 404 webpage error message|
Depending on the size of your website, it may take you an hour to many days to locate and test broken links. A website with over a thousand of pages and thousands of links makes manual checking impossible. Thankfully, I've found two of the best online "broken link checkers" that will analyze your website for free and show you all of your website's broken internal and external links.
I have used both of these broken link checkers on my own websites and my clients' websites. I am listing only these two because they are, by far, the best.
|Check for broken links now with NINJA CHECK|
It will crawl every page of your website, analyzing all internal and external links. It will check for ALL link errors, such as unavailable webpages, page redirections, internal server errors, bad hosts, forbidden pages, and so on.
|Check for broken links now using ONLINE BROKEN LINK CHECKER|
The second one is called Online Broken Link Checker. Very similar to Ninja Check, it too will crawl your entire website, analyzing all links and reporting which ones work and which ones are broken.
Ninja Check looks for more errors on a webpage; and as a result, it takes longer to crawl your website. However, it is extremely thorough. If you don't have time to babysit the progress, you can have Ninja Check email you a report when it has completed analyzing your website.
|Ninja Check sample screen results|
If you are in a hurry or have a website with no more than a few hundred webpages, then use Broken Link Checker. Both tools are accurate. Both will show you broken or "problem" links, the sources of the broken links (where it occurs on the webpage), and what the links navigate to.
|Broken Link Checker sample screen results|
I honestly cannot believe these services are free. Other companies that offer similar services charge between $150 to $300 to analyze a single site. Depending on how often you change your website, or how often you add new content with outbound links, or how often you add new pages to your website, you should run either one of these link checkers at least once a month.
I welcome your comments, suggestions, or other broken link checkers.