I went to the Snap Conference this past week, and came away with a list of to-do’s, and since I’ve been wanting to do a series of blogger tips in plain English after my Blogger Tips post was so helpful, I thought I’d give this one a try. I had heard of the trouble bad links cause before and had fixed them, but had forgotten to keep up…so Desi’s reminder inspired today’s post: How to fix broken links. Bloggers, this is a to-do for you that I hope isn’t too daunting, and commenters, you can help your blogger friends too! You can scroll down to the commenter section if you don’t want to geek out with me.
First: the lovely source of my inspiration to get this task done:
If you’ve ever seen Desi from The 36th Avenue in action, she is a serious ball of energy that will make you smile and cry at the same time! I’m totally a new stalker of hers all over the web! Just look up the36thavenue in all the social media you follow. You won’t be disappointed.
Anyway, Desi is not a tech-head by any means. But she gave us some tips, and one that she reminded us of made me think back to just how long it’s been since I’ve done this on my blog. And uhm, it’s been a long time.
Bloggers: how to fix broken links
Why does it matter? Because if your blog is full of bad links, Google gives you the ugly look and your site won’t rank very high. If you’re not worried about traffic, that’s not a big deal. But if you’re putting out content and you actually want people to find it – this is something to fix. It’s not as geeky as you’d think to learn how to fix broken links, and I’ll break it down for you as simply as I can.
Go to BrokenLinkCheck.com – I did mine, and just so you don’t feel bad, I had a couple hundred bad links! Like I said, it’s been a long time since I did this maintenance checkup, so bad links have been piling up.
It’s super easy to use the BrokenLinkCheck.com site; enter your url, fill out the captcha, and it gives you a list of the bad links. (It may take a little while. Or a big while.) In the report it provides, if you click on “url” it takes you to the page containing the error, and “src” shows you the code. (I’ve pinked-out some sections to keep from embarrassing readers. Read on about that.)
To fix the broken links, go to the url and repair the code in HTML mode. Sometimes mine were easy fixes to the link, or rewording the sentence to remove the link referenced. But other times they were on a simple ‘winner announcement’ post from 2010, or I had blogged a really ugly card that day (ha!), so I just deleted the whole post itself. It’s up to you what you do to repair it, but in general it’s easy to learn how to fix broken links.
When looking for the link, sometimes it’s in the body of the post, and you can do a simple search to find it. But some broken links just don’t show up in the post’s html – that’s when you’ll need the src link beside the url link. To understand when you need to check the src link, let’s look at this snapshot of some of my broken links above and see what’s up.
- 84. I clicked on the url, and couldn’t find any facebook links in my post. I clicked on src and could see the url was left by a commenter (see sample below) in the “url” section of the comment form. I removed that url entirely.
- 85. Same as #84. They had put n/A in the url section, and code added an http:// since it thinks it’s supposed to be a url.
- 86. Same as 84.
- 87. A typo by the commenter in their url.
- 88. Discontinued product link.
- 89. Typo in my own link. Bah!
- 90. A typo by the commenter in their url.
- 91 and 92 – Commenters had put in random things for the url, a smiley-face or name.
- 93. Discontinued product link.
Overall, you can see my errors happened for a few reasons, and as I went through and fixed them, I categorized them from fewest to most errors:
4. Stores that overhauled their sites often change the page names for product links.
3. Products or websites (often news articles) that had been discontinued/removed from the web.
2. Typos on my end. (boo, me!)
1. Commenter urls.Yes, #1!!!
Before reading on: don’t let this src code page scare you! As I worked through my list, I started “recognizing” the text that indicated it was probably a commenter link, and could speed things up by first clicking on “src” and getting to this page.
They highlight the pink section with the busted code. I’ve marked where to find the commenter’s name to show you what this looks like; the pink crossed out on the left contains the broken code, the circled part on the right is the name to look for in the comments section. You need to be on the actual post to see that, not in your HTML mode. Hopefully you can either edit the reader’s comment to remove the url (I can in WordPress, I hope you can in Blogger!) or delete it entirely.
Tips for Commenters
If you read the geeky information above, awesome! If not, the short version: bad links in comments can count against a blogger by Google. If you’re commenting, you must like that blogger at least a little, so help them reduce site errors that will keep them from ranking higher and being found by more people.
- Type out your url correctly. If you’re doing a hop, copy a correct one that you can paste in that spot rather than typing it in manually.
- Don’t use Facebook addresses for urls. Tons of errors there, possibly because Google isn’t your Fb friend and sees a secure Fb address (the https kind) as a bad link.
- If you have no url to link to, just leave it entirely blank. No space, no n/a, no organization or company name. Just blank is fine.
- Type your email address correctly too. If there’s candy to be had, you don’t want to miss out on being notified!
Bloggers, fix this regularly!
I’ve now set a reminder in my calendar for April 26th and October 26th each year with this as a task. It’s less daunting if you keep up!
I know this was a geeky post about how to fix broken links…but I thought my blogger and commenter friends might find it helpful! If you have other topics you’d like me to cover in occasional posts like these, let me know; I’ll share things I learn from time to time!
(And if you missed my 9 tips for bloggers post – click HERE for that.)