Xenu Link Sleuth is a great free tool for even the most experienced web developers. This tool is especially handy for people who run and manage large (20..50..100..1000+ page) websites. Chances are, even if your website is running perfectly fine, there are still errors lurking around the source code. These errors can cause problems with major search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo.
What does Xenu Link Sleuth do?
To quote the Xenu Link Sleuth website;
“Xenu’s Link Sleuth (TM) checks Web sites for broken links. Link verification is done on “normal” links, images, frames, plug-ins, backgrounds, local image maps, style sheets, scripts and java applets. It displays a continously updated list of URLs which you can sort by different criteria. A report can be produced at any time. “
How can Xenu Link Sleuth help you?
To demonstrate how useful this free optimization tool can be, I’m going to tell you a story. It was April 2010, roughly 18 months after I launched Old School Apps, a classic gaming website with downloads to abandoned titles from the 1980s and 1990s. The site had been running great, we were getting 100s of hits daily on a consistent basis without any extra promotional methods (heck we barely used Twitter or Facebook). We had no complaints from our user base.
So what’s the big deal then?
My main point in telling you this is, we thought our website was running perfectly fine. We saw no noticeable issues nor did we hear any complaints. However, after running Xenu Link Sleuth once, it was apparent that we had our work cutout for us. Xenu Link Sleuth found over 100 broken links, redirects, and/or sitemap problems. It allowed us to automatically scan our entire site (over 1400 pages) and it generated a report with the details nicely organized. In total, I’d estimate that it saved over 5 hours of time for the first half of the debugging process (imagine having to click around over 1400+ pages and then check an additional 1000+ download links to make sure the file was linked properly). As for fixing the problems, that had to be done manually but because of the organized report, it was quick and painless to do.