Blog Maintenance: Broken Links, Broken Hearts

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.

Oh.My.Word.

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.

::whimper::

broken links

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:

blog maintenance checklist

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?

6 thoughts on “Blog Maintenance: Broken Links, Broken Hearts

  1. Wow, what a great idea! I’ve always been concerned because BLogger doesn’t have a good back-up tool and I’ve NEVER thought of doing a broken link check although it is frustrating to click on a link in someone else’s blog and have it go nowhere or be to a blog that no longer exists. I find new blog friends mostly through links from my favorite current bloggers and it does leave the impression that they haven’t care for their own blog if links lead to blogs that no longer exist or haven’t been updated in six months or more!! Great post!

    • Thanks, Sharon! This project was a lot of work, but I feel much better for having done it.

  2. Interesting! I’ve never done it. I try to check spam daily, sometimes I get “real” comments in there and sometimes I get a ton of spam so it helps to stay on top of it. I back up to my server weekly. (I thought about switching to a host who does an automatic back up but was scared!) I update plug ins periodically, when I see they need them. (I’m ignoring 3 right now, not sure why.) I have the optimize plug in and do that when I remember. I also added one to clear my cache, but have no understanding of that.

    • I’m always surprised when I see a comment from a regular commenter in my Spam folder. I wonder what makes Akismet flag them–did they just do an awful lot of commenting that day? :)

  3. Thanks for the suggestion for broken link check. Since I am a lazy (and cheap) gal and use free WP, I couldn’t use the plug-in. The free version, however, worked pretty well. Only one link was misidentified as broken. The others were pics that people had taken down or, as you said, bloggers who have left.

    Again, great suggestion!

Comments are closed.