Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 29, 2008
Okay, I’ll own up to it; I’m not perfect. Yeah, I know, I’m surprised myself! In this particular case, I did something that actually was a smart move, but in retrospect, I probably should have thought about before I did it.
I was reading someone’s blog awhile ago, who’s I just don’t remember, and it was talking about the permalinks for each blog post. Many people who are on WordPress blogs have the default setting such that our posts have dates in them. All well and good, or so I thought. But the article was indicating that, for SEO purposes, it messes up how search engines will look at your site, thinking those numbers are a part of what you’re trying to highlight. I don’t know if you’ve ever done this, but if you take your blog post, right click on it, and slide down to Source, then left click, it will bring up a window that will show you the HTML of your site, even your blog. And, if you look for your H1 tag, you’ll see the title of your blog post.
So, I decided I wanted to change that, and I went into the permalinks settings on my WP blog and changed it so that the dates would no longer show. It was a manual change, near the bottom. When I clicked, I then went back to see some of my posts, and the dates were gone, and I was a happy guy.
The part I totally forgot about was that it would suddenly invalidate all the links on all the posts within my blog, all of which had those dates in them. I guess I hadn’t thought it would be retroactive, but it kind of makes sense. Also, it will invalidate those links if they happen to already have been cached in Google, although Google would adjust quickly enough. I didn’t pick up on this change, though, until I was writing a post the other day and wanted to check the links to my series on blogging. That’s when I realized that all of my internal links had changed, and I had to go back and take care of them.
What to do, what to do? I figured it was going to take a lot of time to go searching through every single post, as I’m over 200 at this juncture, and man, that was going to be a mess. Well, talk about serendipity. I happened to be reading another blog post (I really should write all these things down, just in case I need to go back to them), and it mentioned a plugin I hadn’t heard of before called Broken Link Checker.
That sounded promising, so I downloaded it, then uploaded it to this blog. It started running on its own, which kind of freaked me out because, at the same time, I had added another plugin, and it found 72 instances of bad links, with 67 of them being the result of my changing the permalinks. It took me awhile, but now my blog is totally up to date again, and if people click on a link within another post it’ll take them where they want to go. Whew!
There are definitely some smart people out there in WordPress land, and I appreciate every single one of them. I’d recommend getting this plugin if you ever add links into any of your posts, because it will let you know if a link is bad, as you get to set it to run every so many hours. Mine is set to 72 hours; that should be soon enough. Good luck.