Counting links the easy way

Links are an important element to Web sites and SEO. Link Counter is a powerful Firefox add-on that not only counts the links, but can report on the type of link, and more.

So I've been meaning to do some write-ups on some browser toolbars and plug-ins that may be useful for SEO purposes...and leave it to Rand at to remind me of this with his review of 12 popular browser toolbars.

Link Counter (download) is one that I absolutely love both for what it does and its simplicity. Links play a very important part in SEO, both internal links as well as external links. Are they live or broken, 301 redirected, HTML or JavaScript based? Unfortunately the one thing it doesn't seem to manage is showing "nofollow" links, but there are plenty other tools out there that do that.

The best way to get a feel for Link Counter is to see it in action, and one of the best places to see it in action is on an e-commerce site. E-commerce sites are often rather complex with many links on a page, links out to external sites, to product pages, JavaScript windows, and more. Let's use for our demo.

First, here's a partial view of the current home page for Onlineshoes to compare against the screenshots to follow. home page homepage.

As I mentioned, one of the best parts about Link Counter is simplicity. When you add this to your Firefox browser, you may not even notice it's there. It sits down in your status bar area and just shows the number of links on a page, so it takes up very little space. After you start using it, you may notice that you start to subconsciously glance at it when you go to pages or sites, just getting that initial count of links on a page. You can see it in the screenshot's the "357," which means that there are 357 links on this page.

Link Counter menu and internal links list
Link Counter menu and internal links list.

To the left you see that when you right-click on the "357" down at the bottom right, it pops up a menu, and here I've highlighted the "335" internal links. They then show up to the left, which you can quickly scroll through, export to HTML, as a text list, or open up in tabs...though in this case, not something I'd recommend. Exporting out as a text list can be great for additional analysis or just recording all of the links on a page for archival purposes.

There are many other menu options available that you can see above. Another real powerful one is the "Check links status." Below, you can see it in action. It acts like a mass header status checker, showing the status code of the destination of the link. You can see that most of the link destinations here result in 200 OK statuses, which we would expect, but you can also see a couple 302 temporary redirects in the upper right-hand corner. For redirects, it not only informs you of the type of redirect, but again provides the status code for the link destination. Keep in mind that status checking may take a little time on pages with many links.

Checking link destination status
Checking link destination status.

For more general quick checks, you simply click on the link count and all the links will be highlighted. Colors represent the various types of links, such as green for internal links, light blue/purple for external links, brown for JavaScript based links, and yellow for anchor target links.

Type of links highlighted
Type of links highlighted.

There are actually many other designations available and all of the colors can be customized for your liking. There are a number of other options and things that Link Counter can do, so hopefully you'll install it and come back and share some of your favorite features.

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