It is no secret that Google is a very powerful tool for internet users, including webmasters.  While I have written an article on how to sign up for Google Analytics (it is up at eZine Articles right now, and as soon as I get my screenshots pasted in I will post it here as well), the article on Google Webmaster Tools is forthcoming.  One of the very useful things that Google Webmaster Tools provides is a list of “crawl errors”.

Crawl errors are hiccups that Google ran into while investigating your page.  Most of the time these will be 404 errors, which are links in your site that are broken.  As part of your maintenance program you should be making sure you do not have these.  (Another article that will be coming soon is a guide to what maintenance you should be doing, but that one is further off).  The problem that I ran into with these errors is that while I was able to find some of the broken links, I could not find them all.  So what is a webmaster to do?

As is pretty much the case with everything that you and I are trying to do online these days, somebody has gotten there before us.  In this case, there are plugins, or add-ons, for your web browser that can check all of your links for you.

So which browser do you use?  I have IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari on my machine.  Generally I use Firefox, but I have the other 3 to verify that my sites are displaying correctly, and sometimes I will run into a site that does not display correctly in one of the browsers.

Both Firefox and Chrome make it easy to install plugins to enhance the browser’s capabilities.  IE and Safari I do not know about because I have not tried.  To add an add-on in Firefox, just click on the orange Firefox button in the top left corner of the screen, and then click the Add-ons puzzle piece menu item.
Firefox Plugins menu itemOnce selected, a new tab will open that is the Add-ons Manager.  For our purposes there are two interesting parts to this page.  First is in the upper right corner, which is where you can search for an add-on.  Simply enter in a relevant term (such as “link checker”) to search for it.  On the far left of the screen there are four menu items, the second of which is Extensions.  That is where we can go to see which add-ons we have installed and if they are enabled or not.

Firefox Add-on managerI entered “link checker” into the search box, and got the following results (there were more, I just cut them out to save space).

Firefox Add-ons search resultsIf you click the “More” link, you will get more information about the add-on.  If you click the Install button, Firefox will install the add-on.  Now all you have to do is restart your browser, and your add-on is live.

I personally use LinkChecker, which is not pictured above because I already have it installed (note the spelling).  I do not know if it is anything special, but it works for me.f

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