How to Scan Your WordPress Blog for Broken Links

The link becomes ‘broken’ when it ceases to exist, or function as it should. Typically, it happens after a post has been published for some time, even as far back as a year or two. As a webmaster, you’re not really worrying about those broken links, but should you?

There are many reasons for a link to become obsolete. Nowadays, the most common reasons include: website is down, website has been shut down, change of ownership, domain name has been changed and improperly redirected, or perhaps the website has been attacked, and that is causing problems. Any more to add to this?

Broken Links Are Bad for SEO

You can find quite a few articles and columns discussing the negative effects on SEO and overall user experience when it comes to broken links, it doesn’t just create a bad browsing experience for those who’re looking for valuable content, it also gives the search engines a signal that you may not care as much about your site as others might do.

Broken Pages vs Broken Links

Now, there are two types of broken pages and links, the one is where your own website is not functioning properly and so you need to deal with that, but then there is the second one – where a 3rd-party link within a blog post or an article is broken, which creates just as bad experience.

So, what do we need to do to tackle this problem? I’ve got three solutions, all can be used at once, or you can just pick one – the one you’re most comfortable with – and then take it from there.

1. Link Checker Websites

Free Broken Link Checker

It’s a privilege to be able to use this broken link checking tool for free! Not only is it free, it offers a wide range of features that will help you to analyze up to 3000 pages of your site, blog, or business that you’re running. However, there are zero-limits on how many links can be checked on each page separately!

  • Check Your Website, Blog for Broken Links
  • Scans Up to 3000 Pages
  • Checks for Both Internal and External Links (awesome!)
  • Friendly Output of Where There Are Link Problems
  • Does Report Error Codes for All Invalid Links (404, etc,.)
  • Runs on Any Device

these are the main features of this tool, I’m sure you can negotiate premium plans if your website is way bigger than unique 3000 pages!

2. Plugin for Checking Broken Links

Broken Link Checker - WordPress Plugin

This plugin will monitor your blog looking for broken links and let you know if any are found. The feature that really stands out for me for this plugin is the ability to scan your pages for broken links, and then at the same time – have the ability to edit them from within the plugins page. Such a time saver!

  • Monitors links in your posts, pages, comments, the blogroll, and custom fields (optional).
  • Detects links that don’t work, missing images and redirects.
  • Notifies you either via the Dashboard or by email.
  • Makes broken links display differently in posts (optional).
  • Prevents search engines from following broken links (optional).
  • You can search and filter links by URL, anchor text and so on.
  • Links can be edited directly from the plugin’s page, without manually updating each post.
  • Highly configurable.

it also comes equipped with a lot of available translation packets, so if you’re from a non-English speaking country – you might find that there is a translation available.

3. Google Webmaster Tools

Webmaster Tools -- Crawl Errors

The last method that you can use to check your WordPress blog for broken links is to use Google Webmaster Tools. Basically, Webmaster Tools is a simple report of how the Google search crawler is crawling your site, and if the crawler begins to spot errors – you’ll be able to monitor them all within your GWT account! It’s free, but I have to agree – it only has that much use, since the crawler doesn’t check against broken external links.

How to Scan Your WordPress Blog for Broken Links

I think that is a reasonable amount of tools to explore and play with. The way search engines work is changing rapidly, and the last thing we want to be doing is avoiding to be in compliance of the latest web standards, don’t you hate it yourself when you stumble across a broken link? It has happened to me before, even in cases where I’ve been desperate to find information.

You’re more than welcome to share your own methods of checking against broken links, I’ve heard that there have been cases where webmasters are building a separate script for checking the site through MySQL, and then using another script to check for the status of URL’s returned.


By Marko Segota

Co-founder of Anariel Design, musician and a dreamer.

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