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Thursday, 14 September 2017

8 free online broken link checkers compared (only 2 could be advised)

Broken links

Broken links at your website are very annoying and lowers the user experience dramatically. Hence it lowers probably your ranking in search engines.

It is good practice to check your site at a regular base for broken links. Lets say every month.

You should then check and re-check your site till all links are fine. 

Check and update also the redirected links. A redirected link is often no problem, but sometimes it redirects to a phising or malware site. 

Broken links and redirected links could be find by a broken link checker. A broken link checker analyses your site but isn't able to correct a broken link. That is a manual action which should be done by yourself.

Types of broken link checkers

There are a lot of broken link checkers available. These link checkers could have characteristics like:
  • Platform (e.g. Windows, webbased, Wordpress plug-in, Chrome plug-in, etcetera)
  • Price (e.g. free, initial free - paid upgrade possible, paid)
  • Capabilities (e.g. link checker, seo tool, link checker plus another check, maximum links that will be checked)
For this article I have tested the following free generic online broken link checkers:

Two online broken link checkers are fine

The two link checkers that could be advised are Broken Links at a Glance and Dead link checker.

Here is why.

Test method

Before I tested the broken link checkers I made a list of characteristics of a fine broken link checker. A broken link checker should:

  • scan as much links as possible
  • scan as fast as possible
  • give correct results
  • respects robots.txt
  • be mobile friendly

Given this list I started to test the broken link checkers with some large news sites.

That was a good start, because it made clear that speed is more important as I thought before. Based on these tests 4 of the 8 link checkers failed.

The second test was about good results. I tested this with https://httpstat.us/. This time 2 of the 4 remaining link checkers failed.

The two remaining link checkers both respects robots.txt. 

Only Broken Links at a Glance is optimized for mobile, so at the end the results are:

1. Broken Links at a Glance

Broken Links at a Glance is intended for websites up to 1,000 unique links and checks 5 links per second on average. That's respectable although there are other broken links checkers with better numbers. 

However Broken Links at a Glance respects the directives in the robots.txt file, is mobile friendly and is ad free. Broken Links at a Glance checks all links coded at a webpage, not only the visible and clickable links.

2. Dead Link Checker

Dead link checker checks the first 2,000 links on any website. That's second best. Besides that on average it checks 5 links per second. 

Like Broken Links at a Glance, Dead link checker is ad free, respects robots.txt and checks all links coded at a webpage.

Dead link checker isn't optimized for mobile. Besides that you have to enter a code before you are able to start the test.

3. Dr. Link Check

The third place in this test is for Dr. Link Check. The free link checks of Dr. Link Check are limited to 1,000 links per website. On average it checks 10 links per second. That is the highest speed of all tested broken link checkers.

At this moment (September 2017) Dr. Link Check checks only "normal" page links. In version 2.0 which is coming soon they will not only check "normal" page links, but also verify links to images, style sheets, scripts and other resources required to properly display your website.

Dr. Link Check doesn't respect robots.txt and isn't optimized for mobile. Dr. Link Check is the only website which doesn't allow you to check the same website within 10 minutes.

When I tested the site https://httpstat.us/ with  Dr. Link Check, it wasn't able to check all links.

I doubted if I should advise Dr. Link Check. The latest test decided for me not to advise this link checker.

4. Online Broken Link Checker

Of the tested link checkers Online Broken Link Checker has the highest limit of pages to crawl. There is a 3,000-page limit, however there are no limits on number of hyperlinks within those webpages. That's great however there are some downsides.

Online Broken Link Checker: 

  • is slower than the top 3 link checkers. On average it checks 2.5 links per second;
  • doesn't crawl subfolders / URLs with slashes;
  • has problems with https://httpstat.us/;
  • doesn't respect robots.txt;
  • isn't optimized for mobile.

5. Internet Ninja's Find Broken Links, Redirects & Site Crawl Tool

Internet Ninja's Find Broken Links, Redirects & Site Crawl Tool is the best of the rest. This tool crawls up to 1,000 pages of your website. However it's slow. On average it isn't able to check a link in a second.

6. W3C Link Checker

The W3C Link Checker has the option "Check linked documents recursively". When this option is checked then, in theory, by default the recursion depth is unlimited. However in practice less than 500 pages will be checked. The W3C Link Checker is slow. On average it isn't able to check a link in two seconds.

7. Online Website Link Checker

The Online Website Link Checker crawls max 500 pages for free. It has a nasty pop-up which might be closed after a few seconds and it is slow. 

8. Broken Link Checker

Broken Link Checker by WebToolHub doesn't mention a maximum of pages or links that will be checked. It isn't that relevant because this checker is slow. On average it isn't able to check a link in a second.

In summary

Of the 8 tested free online broken link checkers Broken Links at a Glance and Dead link checker are the best link checkers available.

As alternative you might try Dr. Link Check or Online Broken Link Checker

I hope this advise is useful for you.

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