Today your task in the 31 Day Project is something that most bloggers who have been blogging for a while could probably benefit from doing – go on a dead link hunt.
Blogging is built on the ‘link’. One blog links to another blog who links to another who makes comment on another. This is a wonderful thing – but what happens when one of the blogs that you’re linking to is retired, is deleted, changes it’s link structure, moves etc? The link is a dead one (also known as Link Rot) and can cost your blog on two fronts:
Readability – clicking on a dead link can mean your readers can end up on error pages or being redirected to other irrelevant content to the one they were expected to get to. This can lead to reader frustration or giving the impression that your blog is old and/or out of touch.
SEO – I’m not sure of the technicalities of it or what the latest research shows but from what I can tell a dead link is not looked upon favorably by search engines and you run the risk of penalties.
So how do you detect dead links on your blog?
The most obvious ‘solution’ is to surf every page on your blog and manually check all the links. This is something that might be achievable on a new blog – but on older blogs with hundreds or thousands of posts it’s just not feasible.
There are many link checking tools available but to be honest I’m yet to find one that I’m really happy with. I do hear that Xenu’s Link Sleuth is a good option for those using Microsoft Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP. I’ve also used the free version of Dead-Links.com (which only checks to a reasonably shallow depth) – but I’d be keen to hear from readers on their suggestions of other options.