5 Tools To Check For Broken Links On Your WordPress Site

Broken links: Find em, and wipe em out!

Finding Broken Links

Nobody likes a broken link. It’s a bad experience for your site visitors.

Google recommends checking your site for broken links on a regular basis. Doing it manually would be a nightmare, so today we’re going to look at a few tools to speed things up. 🙂

Broken Link Checker for WordPress

First up is Broken Link Checker. This plugin monitors links in your pages, posts, comments, and even custom fields.

When it finds a broken link, the plugin will notify you via the WordPress dashboard or by email.

Unfortunately Broken Link Checker can put a lot of strain on your WordPress database and slow down your site. That’s why WP Engine has blacklisted Broken Link Checker as a disallowed plugin.

Does that mean it’s a bad plugin? Not at all! Try it for yourself before writing it off.


Xenu’s Link Sleuth (Windows Only)

Xenu’s Link Sleuth is a free Windows app that scans entire websites for broken links. Just provide a URL and it will take care of the rest.

It runs a comprehensive scan that checks for broken links, images, frames, backgrounds, stylesheets, and scripts.

It has other uses beyond finding broken stuff. Xenu can also help you check for duplicate content, missing alt text, page depth, site structure, and more.


Screaming Frog SEO Spider (Windows & Mac)

Screaming Frog is similar to XLS. It’s a standalone desktop app for Windows, Mac, and Ubuntu. Give it a URL and it’ll scan the entire site.

Unlike Xenu’s Link Sleuth, Screaming Frog is explicitly intended for site optimization. It dives deeper into page-level elements like heading tags and meta data.

Screaming Frog’s free version limits the number of pages that can be crawled. The licensed version removes that limit, unlocks all configuration options, allows saving/uploading of crawls, adds source code search, and includes customer support.


Google Webmaster Tools

Authenticating your WordPress site with Google Webmaster Tools is the best way to understand how your site is perceived by Google.

When Google encounters broken links on your site, aka crawl errorsyou’ll be notified through the Webmaster Tools dashboard.

Google made a number of improvements to their Webmaster Tools last year to make error messages more understandable.

W3C Link Checker

The W3C Link Checker tool checks links (obviously!) and provides recommendations based on what’s detected.

You can (and should) set a limit on how deep the tool goes. Otherwise you’ll find it keeps going. And going. And going.

In addition to the web service, you can download the W3C Link Checker and run it on your own system.


Lastly, LinkChecker is a comprehensive tool for validating websites.

It’s the most technical option in our list, sporting a command line interface, desktop app, and web app.

We haven’t tried it for ourselves, but it looks like a great choice for power users. An added plus: It’s open source under the GPL license, just like WordPress.

Which tool is best for you?

Choosing the right tool will depend on your needs. Consider:

  • How complex is your website? Large websites will take longer to scan, and a desktop app may not be up to the challenge.
  • What are you trying to accomplish? Are you just looking for broken links, or are you trying to make your website more usable?
  • How frequently are you running scans? Is this a recurring task or a one-time audit?

In our opinion: We find that Xenu’s Link Sleuth is the best value for Windows users, while Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a close second. Screaming Frog’s license fee is worth the cost if you’re doing a lot of scans on a large website.

About the author

21 responses to “5 Tools To Check For Broken Links On Your WordPress Site”

  1. Paul says:

    Thanks for this, Google Webmaster Tools identified some broken links on my site so I used broken link checker but WPEngine doesn’t allow it so needed an alternative!

  2. Aurélien Barbier says:

    Thanks a lot. And what do you thing about link examiner ?

  3. Vimlesh Maurya says:

    Xenu and Screaming Frog is really one of the best tool i have ever used.

    Thanks for sharing it.

  4. Jen Lee says:

    Hi, do any of these check for broken links behind password protection? For example I have a dynamic site where users will search for companies using a search box, and then each company has links to others pages on my site [all generated dynamically I’m told, although all the urls are static], viewing those pages requires a password and then each of those password-protected pages has a link to various external sites. It is the external site links that I want to check.

    I have tried the W3C link checker, setting recursion length to 5, which doesn’t get through the page where a login request come up, so I have had to do it manually which is a real pain. Any help would be appreciated, I’ve been lumped with the task of website admin and am just trying to get my head round all this!

    Many thanks

  5. Jen Lee says:

    OK, I have managed to isolate all my broken urls, I have lists of broken links [404 error etc] and then a list of redirects. Clearly I will have to do all the broken links manually, but for the redirects, where I have a old url and new url already, is there some way of automatically updating the urls for these redirects? Some niche program or maybe a really obvious way that I can’t see because I’m not a computer programmer? Thank you

  6. Hi guys,

    I run a blog that showcases products. It happens that the external URLs are not broken (404) but they return a certain string like “Product sold out”.

    Is there any tool out there that would crawl the external URLs for certain strings?

    +1 beer for any reply.


  7. […] links create frustration for your visitors and can diminish your credibility. There are several tools for checking broken links on your website. Periodically, review your older posts to see what new resources you can link to that you’ve […]

  8. Chris says:

    I’d like to recommend another plugin called QualityControl

    Some of the features:
    – checks broken links
    – finds missing image alt text
    – provides readability statistics
    – and flags ‘problem content’

    There’s a demo here: http://codecanyon.net/item/qualitycontrol/8613587/

  9. tafavotha says:

    wow great post , thanks alot

  10. Jessi Sharon says:

    This information is enormously helpful. Thank you for such lovely information….!

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