01 Mar 2012

Link Rot – and the Most Amazing Free Tool to Find and Fix Broken Links by @jimboykin

There are diseases on the web that you don’t want to get, and if you’ve had a website online for years, or if your site links to other sites, then there’s a great chance that you’ve caught some Link Rot… it doesn’t sound nice, and it’s really not nice to have too much link rot on your site for several reasons… the biggest one being that it could be costing you money indirectly by lowering some of your quality scores in the search engines, which in turn, lowers your rankings.

The Wikipedia defines Link rot as:

Link rot (or linkrot), also known as link death or link breaking, is an informal term for the process by which increasing numbers of links (either on individual websites or the Internet in general) point to web pages, servers or other resources that have become permanently unavailable. The phrase also describes the effects of failing to update out-of-date web pages that clutter search engine results. A link that does not work any more is called a broken link, dead link or dangling link.

….Link Rot, Dangling Links, Broken Links, Dead Links, Redirects, Yada Yada… If you’ve got ‘em, you’ve got to find them, and fix them….if you don’t, you’re basically telling engines like Google,

“Yea, my sites are a bit outdated…I don’t keep up with making sure my content and links are fresh and accurate”

…and that is certainly not a good signal to send to engines like Google. Link Rot can lower your website’s trust and possibly hurt your search engine rankings (if you have too much link rot, broken links, redirects, etc)… It’s hard to stress the importance of making sure your site is accurate and that all your links work and your pages are not filled with redirects or broken links.

When analyzing any clients’ website, one of the essential checks that we always run is a  crawl of the clients website to identify errors. Since the 90′s I’ve been using Xenu Link Sleuth…. the old standby…. loved how it worked… hated that the output could, at times, choke a page…. and the output was never very user-friendly (to say the least)….. but it did it’s job…

The past year or so, our in house SEO reporters have experimented with several of the new downloadable crawl tools, but looking at results in a downloadable program, or in the export as an excel spreadsheet still didn’t make things easy to read or easy to solve the issues…. and for crawlers that cost money, the output still wasn’t useful to me…. you see, I like links…. things I can click on to see the details behind the numbers… and excel exports don’t do that for me… I can solve things easier via following html links.

We’ve created several types of crawlers that we use in-house, where each crawler has it’s own purpose and information that it gathers.. .but I thought that I’d design a crawler that would have the usability and ease of use, and that would record several items that SEO’s and webmasters would care about in any website crawl… items like, of course, checking for broken links and errors and redirects on your site, but in addition, showing internal link text to each page, page size, title tags, meta tags, list of internal links, external links, summaries of errors and a bunch of other cool things… and I wanted to create something that I could give out to the world for free.

There’s nothing to download, it’s all online…. it takes some time to crawl any websites…. so you can either sit there and watch it load..(which is actually pretty cool to do… it’s fun to watch it work actually!), but you can also enter in your email address, and when it finishes running, it’ll email you the HTML page, the excel spreadsheet… oh, and it’ll create and give you a Google Sitemap as well.

…so, this is Beta V.1..and fyi, I always plan to have this for Free… it’s just something that I really felt a better solution was needed in the community. Next week the next version of this crawler will come out, and we’ll continue to build out all the time from what you see today…. oh, and yes, I gave this tool another funny long name like I used to when we gave away tools years ago…. I just couldn’t describe this in a  few words….so…here is the….

 Find Broken Links, Redirects & Google Sitemap Generator Free Tool

Take it for a spin… report the bugs to help us improve it…. keep in mind that this is a beta version, and keep in mind it’s free..so expect to find some bugs, and be nice to our programmers when you point them out to us :)

Oh, in the crawler above, we also hooked in each page crawled with our new On Page Optimization Tool as well. This other tool will analyze a specific page in-depth for SEO Factors including things like keyword density, and the analysis of links on individual pages, and other cool things.

If you like these tools, please Google Plus them, Facebook Like Them, Tweet them…or you know me, Link to them :) … that’s all I ask,

…ok, now go find and fix your broken links today!
Jim