April 26, 2019

Idea validation: website broken link checker

Alan Bi @alanbi

Hi indie hackers!

I’m a senior in high school looking to validate an idea I had for an SaaS that solves the issue of broken links on websites. I’ve noticed that a lot of sites, especially those with curated lists, link to sites that are no longer active. I'm looking to deal with this problem by creating a service that one can integrate with their website to detect when links become broken. The service will send a notification alerting the website owner if any link suddenly stops working and will redirect users to an archived version of that site if one exists.

On a scale from 1 to 10 (with 10 being highly likely), would you spend $5/month on a service like this, and if yes/no, why? If you have any feedback or questions regarding this idea, please let me know.



  1. 6

    It's not something I would spend money for at this time.

    However, this sounds like a really good free tool to drive traffic to your website where you could sell higher-value products. Since you're scraping pages, perhaps you could check them for ADA compliance, consistent use of brand standards (find all the pages where we changed the logo, given that *.ourcompany.com is served by N different apps), or whatever?

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      I like the idea of checking more things since the service will be scraping the pages anyways. Driving traffic to our website is also interesting, although I'm not sure I understand how you would go about doing this. Could you elaborate on what you had in mind?

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        So basically it's really hard to build a business around a $5/mo offering. I mean really hard. I've done it. TL;DR; it sucks. Any future businesses I start that sell to businesses will offer a product where the lowest price (value) is > $50/mo.

        But...if you had something that would be worth <$10/mo, it could be a good thing to put out for free. Behind an opt-in email capture. It could be good for SEO, etc. if the tool is good. moz.com did this with some of their free tools. HubSpot also has free tools to drive traffic to them. Similarly, https://gtmetrix.com has a portion of the tool that's free, but the results are designed to guide you into registering and paying. (The results from the free scan are useful on their own, though.) The basic idea is instead of having a page telling about your product, you publish a free tool that would be useful to the kind of people who would buy your full product.

        Once you get people in your orbit, you would make money by selling the "upgraded" services that are worth more than $10/mo or whatever.

        There are probably ways you could extend the tech/results to justify a value of >$50/mo or $1000/year. (It's far easier to build a business at this price point.) @MostlyHuman posted some specifics that take you in this direction. Aiming at marketing functions is probably a really solid way to approach it. Marketers want consistency of language and branding, and they don't often have direct control of everything published on the company's .com.

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          Thanks for the detailed response! This was very helpful; I'll take these considerations in mind.

  2. 5

    Hmmm there are lots of these out there, you need to really differentiate for that dollar. Heck, I wrote one once at my old job as a miscellaneous task--It also checked spelling.

    I think you would need to differentiate yourself somehow. Checking links for 404, 301, I don't think would be enough.

    Perhaps if you added some more features on top of that like:

    • Valid SSL certificate and warning if the cert is near expiration
    • Spelling and keyword checking (i.e., marketing says to not use the word X or don't use acronym Y) and report those in addition to spelling
    • WCAG 2.1 AA and WCAG 2.0 AA scanning. WCAG 2.0 AA is widely regarded as the bar to meet now, but sooner than later 2.1 will be what people are striving for. If you have a scanner that could do both and nicely reported the results, I could easily see talking some of the enterprisey folks I know in to it.
    1. 1

      Should be noted that Oh Dear! does exactly this along with availability monitoring. They do some basic WA testing, too, though I think just mixed content at the moment.

    2. 1

      Thanks for the ideas! You're right, it may be helpful to offer several of these services in one in order to make it stand out as a product.

  3. 2

    I've seen something like this as a part of a uptime monitoring service. Core product was checking website uptime every minute or so, then once a day they were scanning a site for links and were looking for dead ones. Lastly they were doing SSL expiry check.
    Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of the service...

    1. 1

      Oh Dear! I'm building an uptime monitor so they are one of my competitors. Seems like a great feature.

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        You either joking or you just reminded me their name! "Oh Dear!" https://ohdear.app :-)

  4. 2

    I feel that an annual payment is better for this not very expensive service

  5. 2

    Personally, I'm not in a position to need something like this, so I won't answer your question directly. The only thing I would say is that if this is something I was concerned about, I would probably write something myself, but that's just me, not everyone will be of the same opinion.

    From a very quick search, it does appear that people are already offering this as a service, so you will have some competition. Having said that, the first few results I did find didn't look particularly professional and looked quite out-dated, so there might be some room for improvement.

    That's just my 2 cents, but good luck with whatever you do decide to do! :)

    1. 1

      Thanks for the feedback!

  6. 1

    If the website is built with wordpress, there are many great plugin out there that are scanning all the link to detect broken links.

  7. 1

    I think this is okay for a school project, but there are several free browser extensions that will do this for you. BTW I feel extension is a good implementation angle for this, because that way you do not need to host anything and you will not have the bottle necks you would have with a dedicated server if your app becomes popular.

  8. 1

    Here I would give you one website that maybe doing exactly the same thing as you described (https://crawly.app). If you want to stand out, having only this described feature will not bring you anywhere. Unless you've a strategic plans or collaboration partners which could lead to different path than the current competitors.

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    This comment was deleted a year ago.