Firm aims to fix broken links

New service LinkAlarm aims to aid Webmasters in the ongoing battle to keep their sites accurate and up-to-date.

2 min read
For all the innovations in Net technology over the past few years, there are still few things more aggravating than broken hyperlinks.

Enter LinkAlarm, a service launched today that aims to aid Webmasters in the ongoing battle to keep their sites accurate and up-to-date.

"A Webmaster usually first finds out about a broken link when a reader complains," George Bray, founder and chief executive of LinkAlarm, said in a statement. "For every person who complains, there are a multitude of others who just give up on the site out of frustration. The site's effectiveness is impaired and becomes worse if these problems aren't fixed."

The service, which costs upwards of $20 per year based on the size of the site and the frequency of checks desired, employs software called the LinkAlarm Robot, which checks both internal and external links on every page of a member's site. The member then receives a report via email that lists any broken links.

Link trouble is categorized by level of difficulty. "Link Failure" means a link is definitely broken; "Link Warning" indicates a link is working but is not performing efficiently; and "Link Unknown" means the service was unable to check a link. Within each category are subcategories that further explain the problem.

According to an April 1998 Web usability study by the Georgia Institute of Technology, Net users rate broken links as the second-biggest problem online, right behind slow-loading pages.

"Although solutions for dealing with broken links are well-known to Web designers (i.e., automated auditing of external links for validity, redirecting bad URLs to a search page, etc.), most sites don't seem to employ these techniques. As anyone who has spent any time on the Web can tell you, the problem certainly seems to be getting worse," the study said.

Other products on the market also are aimed at helping Webmasters keep their sites free of link trouble. For example, Mercury Interactive offers software called Astra SiteManager, which features a link analysis along with other functions such a display of usage patterns. The software's $495 price tag includes additional plug-ins and free upgrades for a year, according to the firm's Web site.