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What is a broken link checker, and how does it work?

A broken link checker is a tool or software that scans a website to identify and report broken links, also known as dead links or 404 errors. These are links that lead to webpages or resources that are no longer available, either because the page has been moved, deleted, or the URL is incorrect. Broken links can negatively impact a website's user experience and search engine optimization (SEO) performance, as they can lead to frustration for users and signal to search engines that the website may not be well-maintained.


How a Broken Link Checker Works:

  1. Crawling: The broken link checker starts by crawling the website, similar to how search engine bots index web content. It follows links from one page to another, creating a map of the site's structure and identifying all the links present on the website.

  2. Checking Links: Once the tool has compiled a list of all the links on the site, it proceeds to check the status of each link. This is typically done by sending an HTTP request to the target URL and analyzing the response code. A response code of 200 indicates that the link is functioning correctly, while a 404 response code signifies a broken link. Other response codes can also indicate issues, such as 301 or 302 for redirects, which may need attention if they are not functioning as intended.

  3. Reporting: After checking all the links, the broken link checker generates a report that lists all the broken links found on the site, along with their locations (i.e., the pages where the broken links are found). Some tools also provide additional information, such as the type of error, the link text, and suggestions for fixing the issue.

  4. Fixing Broken Links: With the report in hand, website owners or administrators can take the necessary steps to fix the broken links. This might involve updating the URL if the target page has moved, removing the link if the target page no longer exists, or replacing the link with a relevant alternative.

Broken link checkers can be standalone tools, part of a broader SEO or website management suite, or even browser extensions. They vary in complexity, with some offering basic functionality for small websites and others providing advanced features for large, complex sites. Some tools allow for scheduled checks, enabling website owners to regularly monitor their site for broken links without manual intervention.



In summary, a broken link checker is an essential tool for maintaining the health and performance of a website. By identifying and fixing broken links, website owners can ensure a better user experience and potentially improve their site's search engine rankings.