Poor little blog, sitting here lonely and ignored.
So sorry for absence. In my attempts to get my life more organized, I’ve allotted a certain amount of time to blogs and blogging, and over the past week, most of that time has been attending to some long overdue maintenance issues on my other blog.
I’m not sure what your blog maintenance routine is like, but mine has mainly focused on making sure the backups run (weekly) and updating plug-ins every month or so. My casual ways have been working well, so far, but I attribute that to dumb luck rather than an efficient/effective process.
While cleaning up a client’s long-neglected website (a new to me arena), I found a few broken links–all websites that are no longer functional. Of course, that got me to thinking that in 4+ years of blogging, I had never checked for broken links. I’d stumbled across a few accidentally, but I’d never made a complete review.
Why is this important? Or, why is it important to me? Well, I like to think the links I provide are useful or entertaining. If you’re reading back through my history, clicking a bunch of links that don’t work might give you the impression I’m sloppy or that I don’t care about my content. Also, a multitude of broken links can slow down the page load time, which directly impacts the reader experience.
After some research, I opted to install Broken Link Checker WordPress Plug-in. This plug-in finds links that don’t work, missing images, deleted YouTube videos and other problems. Installation and execution were easy; my site check took about 15 minutes.
I had almost 200 broken links! Fortunately the plug-in provides a method for cleaning up links from results list.
Most of the dead links were comments of bloggers who either deleted their blogs or changed their blog URL, and bloggers who mistyped their own blog URL! All of those were relatively easy to fix (I just clicked Unlink), but the remainder of the breaks required research to find a correct link or a replacement for the original. In a few cases, I just deleted that part of the entry. Several hours later, I re-ran the check and received an all-clear. Hooray! Now to spread the word!
In researching a broken link solution for non-WordPress users, I stumbled upon an article that said the WordPress plug-in didn’t check CommentLuv comments! Blogger Stacy at Grow with Stacy advised using a free online tool, Free Broken Link Checker, which I did.
They’re kidding, right? Nope, over 300 more errors to clear. Unfortunately, the only way I found to do it was to locate the comments on the WP dashboard and use the RemoveLuv option available there. And so I did that. Over 300 times. (We need another plug-in!)
Needless to say, the whole experience taught me a few lessons. I’ll definitely keep up with blog maintenance regularly now. I even made myself an Official Schedule:
Red-letter items are my Must Do As Scheduled Unless Dead tasks. The others must be done, but if I’m a day (or three) late, so be it.
Another lesson learned in this ordeal was the importance of doing a quick proofread when entering my URL on other blogs.
And to never, EVER change my blog name or file structure.
Do you search for and clear your broken links regularly? What tool(s) do you use?