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We’ve created a more sophisticated broken link checker for SEOs that allows you to make quicker insights on the links you’re checking. You can download the Chrome extension for free here:
The rest of this post will contain documentation on what it does & how to use it.
This is only the initial version, and I already have a list of additional improvements that I will be making, which are listed at the end of this post.
Before going any further, I want to give a HUGE shout out to Paul Livingstone & Check My Links, the extension this was built off of. Under the MIT License, he’s allowed anyone to improve upon the original extension, which is what we’ve done.
Why This Extension Is Noteworthy
Checking a page for broken links on-the-go is not new. The first to make it practical & efficient was Check My Links, an extension that my agency has used heavily up until this point. It’s simple: click a button, and see which links are broken, just like the below.
What it’s missing is what we do next. We want to take this link and find out more about it, which you can now do in one click with LinkMiner, as shown below.
You can also display link data on the page itself, right next to the status code of the link, as shown below.
You can even export all of that information about those links as a CSV, instantly.
There are a few other features, and there are far more improvements to come, but this extension will take your page link analysis to the next level. With that said, let’s get into the details!
Before we get into anything, let’s first get setup.
First, visit the following link in the Chrome Store to add the extension to your browser:
Once added, you will now be able to locate it on your Extensions page, as shown below.
Before clicking on the ‘Options’ link and playing around with the settings, let’s first run the extension on a test page to authenticate Ahrefs, which is what the link data is being pulled from. If you don’t have an Ahrefs account, then you will be unable to use some of the main additional features. You can sign up for an account here.
Note: we plan on integrating this with Majestic in the future as well (so you can choose), given we don’t run into any development roadblocks.
So to start, visit a test page like this: http://pointblankseo.com/link-building-resources
Then hit the extension’s icon, which should now be showing up in your extension’s list, as shown below.
Ignore the number in red for now; simply click on the icon, and the page will start to be checked for broken links, like the below.
As you can see, it scans the page & checks if any links are no longer working, and if they aren’t, they’ll be highlighted in red. If it’s a 404, it’s in dark red. If it’s any other status code, it’s in light red (as they can be hit or miss in terms of whether they’re actually broken).
Next, click on the status code that is displayed next to the broken link, which will trigger a popup, as shown below.
Next, click ‘Authorize’, and you will be taken to Ahrefs.com to login & allow the extension to authenticate, as shown below.
Once you authenticate, you will be given this dummy message. You’ll then return to the page you were checking to see if it’s now working.
Going back to the page, click on the status code again, and you’ll now see working data in the extension.
From here, let’s now talk about the Options/Settings that allow you to unlock additional features with a few clicks.
You can locate the Options page in two ways: via the gear icon on the graphic that shows up when the extension is activated on a page, or via a link on the extension’s listing on your browser’s Extensions page. Both are shown below.
Once clicked, you will be shown the following page.
Let’s run through what each option is asking:
Status code. Display the status code next to working links, so you can also view more data on those links too.
Ahrefs metrics. Display Ahrefs link data on the page next to each link as you would with the status code. You can display Backlinks, Referring Domains, or both. You can also only ask the extension to generate this data if it’s an external link.
Caution: this can eat up a lot of your OpenApp API calls, so be cautious!
Top links. Display the top 5 links to a given URL you’re investigating at the bottom of the popup window, below the link & social data that is displayed.
Number displayed in front of the extension’s icon. Have the number be either the total links on the page, or just the number of external links.
A few tactical notes about the above features:
Ahrefs metrics. If you enable these, when you export the links from a page (will address later), this data that you’re pulling will be exported with it.
Top Links. Next to the URL & page title of the top 5 links is the Ahrefs Rank metric. This is only used to figure out which 5 we should be pulling (the 5 highest); personally, I don’t find this metric valuable for anything else other than this feature.
Number displayed on icon. If you select ‘External Links’, you can quickly tell if the page you’re viewing links out, which is handy for quickly assessing link opportunities, regardless if you’re checking it for broken links.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about a few things you’ll notice when using the extension.
Here is a list of the additional features that aren’t addressed on the Options page:
Exporting. You can export the list of links on the page, as well as their status codes, whether they’re internal or external, and they’re Ahrefs data (if setting is enabled) as a CSV file. To do this, click the icon pointed out below.
Ahrefs View More links. This idea isn’t original; we stole it from ShareMetric (highly recommend). You can quickly view more information on different aspects of that URL/Domain, courtesy of the dashboard on Ahrefs.com, which you’d have an account on if you got this far.
With that said, let’s see if I can answer as many of your questions in the below list of FAQs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Your worst nightmare came true and somehow it’s not working for everyone. Which brand of pitchfork would you recommend? If this actually happens despite all my testing, then I promise I’ll be working through it non-stop until it’s solved.
Why does this permissions popup make me so uncomfortable? Trust me, I’m with you on this one. This just seems to be permissions needed by my developer to make the extension work properly. Turns out, all extensions ask for permissions like these.
Where are you getting the core functionality? We’re using the same code that was used to make Check My Links. We’ll be further improving on this code in future updates to prevent false positives & improve detection of pages that should be marked as broken.
Why does it only integrate through Ahrefs? We simply just haven’t gotten to Majestic yet, and we plan to seriously look into it for version 2.0. We are aware that Open Site Explorer might be worth including as well, but I can’t promise we’ll get to it.
What are my Ahrefs API credit limitations? As of this writing, here are the limits for each plan:
- Lite – 50k rows
- Standard – 300k rows
- Plus – 1M rows
- Premium – 5M rows
Please double check this with the source. In terms of what those numbers mean to you:
- 1 row for each link checked when displaying Ahrefs metrics on the page itself
- 2 rows for each link that you investigate by clicking its status code
Therefore, if you’re looking to display Ahrefs metrics on the page itself, note the number in red on your icon in case you happened to be on a page that was absolutely loaded with links, as it would eat up a lot of API calls.
What exactly are those numbers being pulled from Ahrefs? We’re looking at links to the URL (not the domain or prefix).
The data on the popup window is loading slowly. Therefore, your extension must be broken. I guess it’s not a question, but if this happens on occasion, give it time. I’m still not completely sure whose fault this is when it happens (on your side, Ahrefs side, or our side), and if it’s fixable, but if it is, we’ll get to it in future updates.
So I bet you’ll charge for this in the future, right? Nope. I have no reason to. This is more so for the (gobs?) of free PR all you guys will hopefully give us. The only thing I foresee being paid is if we integrate with other services that are paid. So i.e. you might need to pay for them (like Ahrefs) in order to use those additional features.
Are you open to feedback? VERY. You’d be a massive help simply by letting me know any bugs or any feature requests you have. I’d pay you in links if I could.
List of Feature Requests
To hold myself accountable, I’m going to list feature requests right here on the post, and I’ll even throw in a shout out to who ever gave it (if it’s serious enough to be considered; i.e. not: “Make it play Friday by Rebecca Black whenever I click the button”).
So here’s the list I’ve already put together myself:
- Be able to prevent false positives (issue duplicated from Check My Links)
- Be able to detect if URL is on parked domain (should be flagged)
- Be able to detect if URL is on domain with malware (should be flagged)
- Integrate with Majestic and/or Open Site Explorer
- Allow you to view social data without having to integrate with Ahrefs
- Allow you to view social data on page-load, just like you can with Ahrefs metrics
- Allow you to export only external links
- When calculating the number of external links to show in front of the icon, don’t count links to a certain set of domains (i.e. facebook.com, twitter.com, etc.) so you don’t get thrown off by social profile links for assessing if they link out.
- Show # of external/internal links next to each Google search result
- Option to display domain or prefix (not URL) level metrics
- Add a ‘View More’ link to the Wayback Machine
I can’t promise I’ll add all of the above, but I’ll be looking into the possibility of each.
With that said, here are the feature requests & bugs found from you guys. You can send me feature requests via the Comments on this post, or by tweeting at me @PointBlankSEO.
- Ability to automatically scan page for broken links and display a red notification on top if there is one present. (via @anthonydnelson)
- An option to only check external links (via Baptiste Place)
- The icon in Chrome can be a bit slow to respond (via Alex H)
- 301s are showing as 405 or 408 Status Codes in the export
- Allow authorization of Ahrefs on the Settings page as well (confuses new users who don’t read this guide) (via Patrick Hathaway)
- Add the source URL & info at the top of each export (via Patrick Hathaway)
- Let us know exactly what those permissions are for & be able for them to be verified (via Darren Shaw)
- Make a version for Firefox (via Matthew)
- Make a color blind-friendly version (via Jordan)
Regardless, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, whether you think the extension is cool or if your opinion is just flat out wrong (just kidding!). Overall though, the more critical you are, the better!
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