Today your task in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog 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:
1. 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.
2. 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 well regarded. 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.
Other dead link checking tools:
here are a few that are recommended in the WordPress Codex:
- Siteowner’s Link Checker
- Link Valet
- W3C free check link free utility
- AnyBrowser’s Link Checker
- HTMLHelp Valet Link Checker
- NetMechanic’s Link Check
Feel free to suggest others below.
What to Do When You find a Dead Link?
There are a few options for what to do with dead links. They include:
- fixing/updating them – if the link is simply wrong or pointing to the wrong place update it so that it works
- deleting them – if they are dead and you can’t find a correct one then you can delete the link. I usually add an ‘update’ note to say that I’ve done this. I sometimes also update with new relevant links so that the post is still relevant.
- delete the post – on occasion I’ve done this if the whole post’s main point is to link to someone else’s post. A dead link makes this type of post obsolete so I consider deleting them rather than updating.
Whether you use a tool or just tackle the task manually a few posts at a time – finding and fixing dead links can be well worth the effort.
What do you Do
How do you find dead links? What do you do when you find them? Got any cool tools to share? Feel free to discuss here, or share with everyone in the forum post for this task.
This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.
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