Not too long ago, I was checking on my blog stats and saw that my comment numbers were through the roof.
Getting close to 27,000 comments.
Sure it sounds impressive, but imagine responding to such an astronomical numbers of comments?
What about linking out to that many sites?
What about controlling spam?
What about broken links?…
Broken Links: Why Bother?
I know, I know – you’re overwhelmed, overworked, and, let’s face it, underpaid.
Why bother with broken links?
1. Reader Experience
When your readers click around and see 404 pages popping up, they start to question your credibility.
To them, if your site has broken links, your product is unlikely to be error-free.
You end up losing readers and potential customers.
2. SEO Considerations
No, Google won’t penalize your site just because you have a few broken links.
Google’s John Mueller in a response to a Google Webmaster Help thread question about broken links:
Googlebot isn’t going to lose sleep over broken links…
If you find things like this, I’d fix it primarily for your users, so that they’re able to use your site completely.
On the other hand, Google Webmaster Guidelines clearly states:
Check for broken links and correct HTML.
Let’s think it through.
When Google bot graces you with crawling/indexing your site, it gives you but a few seconds of its precious time (to learn more, read about how Google works.)
Since it follows every links it encounters, sending it to a bunch of dead ends (broken links) is… well, not the best use of your crawl budget.
Broken Link Checker: the Obvious Solution to Broken Links
What is Broken Link Checker?
Broken Link Checker is a free WordPress plugin that does exactly what it implies to do: monitors your blog for broken links.
It happens to be one of the most popular WordPress plugins, so it comes as no surprise that most bloggers use it to keep their broken links in check.
I, too, have Broken Link Checker installed at Traffic Generation Café.
As of the writing of this post, it shows I have only 16 broken links on my blog.
Even after I used its “nuclear option” and re-checked all the links on my blog (which, by the way, tremendously slowed everything down for a couple of hours), it came up with 29 broken links.
Yet another broken link tool, DrLinkCheck, found 78 broken links in just the first 1,000 links it scanned.
Sounds like Broken Link Checker isn’t all it’s meant to be…
What Broken Link Checker Misses
Broken Link Checker does NOT check CommentLuv links.
Thus, even though the ‘Name’ link is not broken, the CL link might still be – the post might’ve been deleted or moved.
What happens when you delete a comment with a broken link?
The reply to that comment stays behind AND links to the original comment (that no longer exists!), thus creating a broken link.
Links Within Comments
Broken Link Checker doesn’t check the links left within the body of a comment.
Other problems with Broken Link Checker
But wait, there’s more!…
Broken Link Checker is a Plugin
Broken Link Checker is designed to run in the background checking for broken links every so often, which basically means it slows down your blog, hugely impacting both your Reader’s experience and search engine rankings (fast sites rank better!)
It Eats Up Your Memory
Since I have so many links on my blog (mostly from comments, of course), Broken Link Checker file size is over 5 MB as of right now.
It’s basically eating up my resources while not doing such a good job at tracking broken links!
Even More Causes for Broken Links on Your Site
Yes, I am a geek…
I love, love, love digging up the kinds of things that completely eat up my precious time and fascinate me at the same time!
As I was searching for more sources of broken links on my blog, I found the following:
Even though I don’t publish many guest posts, I still have 53 past guest authors.
Turns out that at least 4 of them (haven’t checked them all yet) shut down their blogs.
Yet here I am, linking to them within my content and comments… What a waste!
Obviously, you should never approve comments that are after one thing – a backlink from your blog.
Easier said than done!
When I first started blogging, the sound of crickets drove me NUTS… thus, I approved every comment – just about.
Now, some years later, I’m appalled at the number of spam comments published at TGC during the first couple of months of its existence…
I firmly believe that we shouldn’t publish trackbacks in our comment sections.
Wondering what trackbacks and pingbacks are?
First of all, over 90% of them are spam (an educated guesstimate.)
Secondly, there’s a question of reciprocal linking when you publish trackbacks: they link to your post, you link back to theirs…
This goes for any free blogging platform, not just Blogger.
The “ditch rate” for these blogs tends to be much higher since it doesn’t cost a penny to start a blog.
Unfortunately, those platforms don’t always generate a hard 404 (not found) error when a blog is suspended, moved, or abandoned, so you end up linking to a bunch of “This account has been suspended” or “This blog has moved” pages.
This one was yet another accidental discovery.
While going through the old comments at TGC, I occasionally thought, “Haven’t seen him for a while; I wonder how he’s doing…”
So I’d click over to the blog just to discover that the person had stopped blogging… adding to the ever-increasing rate of failed blogs… 😟
During one such check-up, I discovered that one of my blogging friend’s blog had become a part of an autoblogging network!
In other words, all links from my blog to his became bad neighborhood links… and that aint’ good!
Broken Link Checker Alternatives
All of the above screamed ‘quest, Quest, QUEST!‘ at me… (I told ya… GEEK! 🤣)
Yet in the world of the tool abundance and even oversaturation, I STILL had a very hard time finding a (free) broken link tool that checked ALL broken links on my blog (too much to ask, apparently…)
Another requirement for a good broken link checking tool: it needs to show me exactly WHERE the link is located, as opposed to simply telling me that I have a broken link.
Here are some potential candidates
First of all, I have to show you the screenshot of the site – talk about memorable branding!
DrLinkCheck.com did a great job with one exception: only the first 1,000 links were free.
After that, you can increase the limit to 5,000 links for $10 (valid for 60 days.)
So, if you have a small site, this tool is great.
For larger sites, you need to keep looking.
This tool does everything – for up to 3,000 pages per site.
This is the one I use to check for broken links at Traffic Generation Café.
Xenu’s Link Sleuth
This is a free downloadable software that scans your site from your desktop.
There are no limitations as to the number of pages or links and there are many other great uses for it.
Take a look at these two great posts to learn more:
- Xenu’s Link Sleuth – More Than Just A Broken Links Finder – SEOMoz.org
- 3 Not-So-Obvious But Totally Awesome Uses Of Xenu Link Sleuth For Webmasters – MakeUseOf.com
Note: the download page is not very well-designed, but don’t be concerned: it’s a very well-respected and known tool.
Also, it works for Windows only.
If you are an avid Mac user, like I am, here’s a Mac alternative:
Integrity Broken Link Checker
It doesn’t get any more thorough than this free broken link checker for Macs.
I also found two services that won’t just run a scan of your site, but will monitor your links on a continuous basis.
Just like Broken Link Checker does, just a lot better.
Broken Links Be Gone
At the moment, my comment count dropped down to under 20,000 comments.
That’s about 7,000 broken links and/or bad neighborhood and spam comments!
So far I’ve only checked about half of my blog…
I am getting there… (glass half full!…)
Broken Links Marketing Takeaway
Moral of the story:
1. DON’T approve any comment that even smells like spam.
2. DON’T publish trackbacks.
3. DO monitor your site at least once a month; make sure you keep it manageable and not let it go like I did (out of ignorance, but nonetheless).
4. DO take care of your broken links – outsource it if can.
And DO give this post a shout on social media!
From Ana with