How to Identify Broken Outbound Links Using Screaming Frog SEO Spider

General SEO Stuff
henry dalziel | SEO Hong kong pro

Broken outbound links can significantly impact your website’s SEO performance and user experience. They can lead to poor user engagement, reduced trustworthiness, and potentially impact your site’s search engine rankings.

Regularly checking for broken links is crucial, and one of the most effective tools for this task is to use the Screaming Frog tool.

In this blog post, I’ll guide you through the process of identifying broken outbound links on your website (or indeed anyone’s website) using Screaming Frog.

Why Does This Help?

Discovering broken EXTERNAL links, i.e. links FROM a website that are broken is interesting for two reasons:

  1. You can offer to replace your link in exchange for the broken one (yes, I know – this is an ancient SEO technique, but it still works!)
  2. You can see if there’s an expired root domain that you can use for re-indexation.

What Is Screaming Frog?

Screaming Frog is a powerful desktop program that allows users to crawl websites’ URLs and fetch key elements to analyze and audit technical and onsite SEO.

Available for Windows, MacOS, and Ubuntu, it’s a go-to tool for SEO professionals looking to improve website performance. There’s a limit for only 500 URLs for the free version so you might need to get a license.

Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Broken Outbound Links:

Step 1: Setup and Configuration

Before you begin, ensure that Screaming Frog is installed on your computer. Enter the URL you wish to crawl in the ‘Enter URL to spider’ box at the top of the application.

Step 2: Configure Crawler Settings

To specifically check for external links:

  • Navigate to ‘Configuration’ > ‘Spider’
  • In the ‘Spider’ settings, select the ‘Advanced’ tab.
  • Check the ‘Check External Links’ option to enable the tool to verify the status of links pointing to external sites.

Step 3: Start Crawling

Click the ‘Start’ button to initiate the crawling process. Screaming Frog will now begin to crawl the specified website, analyzing both its internal and external links.

Step 4: Analyzing the Results

Once the crawl is complete, switch to the ‘External’ tab to review the external links:

  • The tab will display a list of all external URLs found during the crawl.
  • To identify broken links, filter these results by ‘Status Code’. Look for HTTP status codes such as 404 (Not Found) or 500 (Internal Server Error) which indicate issues with the linked pages.

Step 5: Export the Data

For documentation or further analysis, you can export the list of broken links:

  • Right-click within the ‘External’ tab.
  • Choose ‘Export’ and select your preferred location to save the file.

In Summary

Maintaining a clean link profile is essential for SEO. By regularly using Screaming Frog to check for broken outbound links, you can help ensure your website remains reputable and user-friendly.

This process not only improves site health but also contributes to better SEO rankings. Remember, the key to successful SEO management is consistent monitoring and prompt action on issues such as these.

Keep your website at the top of its SEO game! Make regular link audits part of your SEO routine to avoid the pitfalls of broken links. For more insights into optimizing your website, stay tuned to my blog!

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