Blog Maintenance – Broken Links

The last couple of days have been interesting with this blog. Some of you might notice I’ve created a new header. Yeah, not fancy, but I like it. It’s an expansion of the one I created for my Facebook page. Nothing fancy, but I think it’s me, and I hope you like it at least a little bit.

by Gord Webster
via Flickr

The other thing I’ve been doing is fixing broken links. Well, that’s not quite accurate. What I’ve been doing most of the time is killing links and every once in awhile fixing a link. I have the plugin Broken Link Checker, but I had turned it off some time ago because it can slow your blog down if you’re doing things in it and that was irritating me. I also really hadn’t paid all that much attention to broken links, figuring it was all stuff in the past; seems that’s not quite true.

As I was griping last week about the loss of traffic I started looking around for answers. Two were actually provided by a comment on that post by Lisa, who mentioned two things. One was the sitemaps thing, another plugin that I’d deleted from this blog, and the idea of broken links. Although I didn’t see a lot out on the search engines talking about sitemaps and traffic, I did find a lot of people have written about broken links and traffic, especially search engine traffic.

I decided that I did want to clean up the blog, so I turned on the plugin and let it do its thing. I was hoping it wouldn’t do what going online and doing a search did for someone else, which was to alert him to over 18,000 broken links on his blog; ouch! I got lucky; I came up with just over 750, and I didn’t think it was that bad.

What was surprising is just how many of those links actually came from people who had left comments on the blog, and now those blogs or websites don’t exist anymore. Initially I was looking at a bunch of them, and that was time consuming and frustrating so I decided I wasn’t going to waste that much time.

However, there were still some I did decide to look at, and those are the ones I’m going to talk about more because I still talk to some of you. What I found is that you either changed your permalink structure or the location of where you put your blog or blog posts, or you’ve changed websites or blog locations and either didn’t remember or decided against bringing some of your old content with you. In one case one of you has started a new blog space and left more than 3 years of content elsewhere that can’t be accessed anymore; that’s a shame because it was great stuff.

Any time you change how your information has been put out there, if anyone has linked to you it suddenly becomes a bad link. If you’re keeping your content, at the very least you need to make sure there’s a way for people to find the new link if they care to try. For my purposes if a few people were using the Archives widget I could have easily found what I was looking for. However, so many people decide to use either that one or Categories and not both, as I do, and thus I had no chance to find the posts I wanted and just gave up.

In any case, it points out the importance of doing maintenance every once in awhile and in making sure people can find your content in whatever way they deem easiest. And look, my traffic has gone up; whoopee!!!

24 thoughts on “Blog Maintenance – Broken Links”

  1. Great reminder Mitch!

    This is the third post I’ve read about blog maintenance, I guess everyone’s really getting aware about maintaining their blogs nowadays, which includes me too. πŸ™‚

    Yes indeed, broken links do slow up your blog and ever since I installed the broken link checker this problem is solved, except the fact that even when a known persons blog is down, this plugin won’t wait to message and trouble you! But nonetheless, it does help.

    I guess maintaining your blog once in a while is absolutely essential and that’s what makes your traffic go up.

    Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

    1. No problem Harleena. It just made sense for me to do it since this blog’s more than 4 years old, and it’s mainly old stuff that’s being cleared away.

  2. Hey Mitch

    Maintenance of blog is necessary broken link’s make bad impact and its also anti SERP strategy why you didn’t redirect it to 404 error page instead of deleting it.

    1. Rizwan, sending everyone to a 404 page would have been counter-productive because it would have taken people away from actually reading anything and probably irritate a lot of people. I know I’d be irritated. No, deleting bad links is a better strategy overall.

  3. New header looks very good, actually I quite like it on your Facebook page. Definitely broken links affect SEO badly. I often check this in Google webmaster tools, but accuracy there is very low as usually it is just related to crawling error. I think for WordPress based blogs can be easier as there are several plugins that can check this instantly.
    About the traffic and also related to previous topic. There was a statement on Matt Cutts blog about 3 weeks ago that there have been an error in algorithms which is not related to new Penguin update.

      1. This isn’t the first time, Mitch and honestly not the worst one as it was handled promptly in less than 2-3 days. Generally there is no software that is bug free, just for reference, on every 100k lines of code about 400 – 600 lines lead to some kind of error, there are about that many errors in every operating system.

  4. Hi Mitch,

    I’m glad that you only found 750. I did have 18,000 but after 3 days solid removing them I’m now down to 157 and will have those sorted this week.

    Blog maintenance is essential and should be done on a regular basis. I’ll be doing mine monthly from now on. The first Sunday of the month is going to be blog maintenance day πŸ™‚


  5. I use the broken link checker plugin and like it a lot, it helps me keep the spiders from turning up their noses at me as an “unkempt” web site. Unfortunately, most of mine also come from comment links that go dead. I just unlink those. A few are resources I referenced in an article – those I have to update or remove.

    I’m glad you pointed this out Mitch, everyone ought to keep an eye on their housekeeping!

    1. Allan, if it was in the content I also had to go back and at least look at it to see if I needed to rewrite it in some way. But I had little of that, even though I know I link to people all the time.

  6. Broken links are common but hurts a lot. It’s a good thing that you have concerned audience to tell you what went wrong and thus gives idea on what to improve and fix.

  7. When I was preparing for today’s blog post, I found a couple of broken links in past posts I would be linking too. I fixed those but wonder how many there are in the 3 plus years of posts.

  8. After running a directory – which I subsequently mothballed due to the number of submissions and broken links – I can fully understand your problem Mitch. Another problem I found is that when sites are deleted or sold, they can sometimes be taken over by adult sites etc., which can cause untold damage. It’s sad when some blogs and forums I’ve frequented have gone the way of the dodo: they contained a wealth of information which has not been recorded in it’s entirety by

    1. Richard, is that kind of thing still happening, porn folks buying up existing domain names like that? I can’t imagine running a forum and having to deal with that on a consistent basis; ugh!

  9. You are always great when it comes to the information that you give in your articles Mitch. Thanks a lot.By the way I must admit that I love the new header.

    1. Thanks Harlem; doing what I can. Of course, I’m wondering who you really are since you used two different email addresses and names in two different posts yet linked back to the same domain.

  10. Hi Mitch,

    I lost my virtual assistant but she did caution me to use Google webmaster tools to get reports on all my site’s broken links, 404 page not founds, etc. She signed me up for Google webmaster tools and to said that I needed to make sure my content is findable by both Google and searchers. I have not followed instructions in the while, which I need to get on. If the search engines and my site visitors can’t see my content, then I have a problem. Thanks for the reminder to make suremy content is findable by both Google and searchers.

    1. No problem Rachel. Maintenance is always a smart thing to check into from time to time to make sure things are working well. Truthfully, we all forget to do it here and there.

  11. Reading your post remainded me to have a look at my blog too, so thanks πŸ™‚
    Nothing but broken links and irritating 404 errors frighten your visitors out of revisiting your website.
    Webmasters and bloggers should look after their websites more often.
    You have an awsome blog anyway!

  12. Yeah, it’s really important to check those unnecessary links within your website. It is one of the factors of a strong website. Imagine a website that has a broken link. Visitors will have a bad impression to your whole website even if it’s only one broken link. By the way, I visited your articles and I like most of them.

    1. Thanks Richard. I think broken links are more critical on websites than blogs, but it’s not great having broken links all over one’s blog either.

Comments are closed.