Broken links are an all to often common occurrence when building or redesigning a new website. Most website design projects start out on a staging server. This means that all of the images and links are pointing to addresses to their respective folder on the staging site. When the website gets migrated to your website’s domain these links can break. What is even worse is they can appear to work but are still pointing to folders on the staging environment, which can cause duplicate content issues with search engines.
There are a few tools that can help you find broken links on your website but few are as robust as Screaming Frog.
Screaming Frog is free SEO tool that will crawl a website and return information about that website that is useful from an SEO perspective. It works similar to the way search engines crawl your site.
How Screaming Frog works:
You will first need to download a version of Screaming Frog. Once you have it installed run a report on your main domain where your new website resides. Simply input your domain name into the text box and click start.
Depending on the size of your website it might take a while for Screaming Frog to completely crawl your site. DAGMAR Marketing just lunched our newly redesigned site so we’ll use our website as a demo.
Once Screaming Frog has completed it’s crawl you will see a lot of data. Click on the Status Code header to sort the list in Ascending order. This will normally sort by server status code 200 which means the link is “OK”. Click the Status Code header again and it will sort by Descending order.
You can see that a few of our links are returning a server response code of 404 “Not Found” which means that we’ll need to fix these links to either point to the right web address of this blog post or another relevant post or delete the link entirely.
You use the bottom window to view the page that contains the broken link by clicking on the Inlinks button. Right click the From link and you can go directly to that page to find the broken link.
This technique works for external broken links as well. If you are running an active blog you have probably linked out to other relevant websites. Over time these URL’s can break due. If you select the External button in the top header and sort by Status Code you will get a list of external links that are broken.