Broken Link Blues

Cat peeking out

Like Big Orange, I’m overwhelmed.

I spent Saturday, May, 30, at the UPublishU conference associated with the 2015 Book Expo America in New York. One of the presentations included information about SEO, aka Search Engine Optimization.

One of my many takeaways from the sessions is: Google penalizes websites with broken links.

Great. Just great.

I’d spent weeks bringing my website up to Google’s Mobile Friendly code, and now I had to get rid of the dead link messages, too?

Web material is pretty much “fly by night” in action. Links active in 2008 can be long gone by 2009, or even later in 2008. Or the content could still exist, but a website re-design interrupted the routing, or “digital breadcrumbs,” through the link.

I like to write searchable “evergreen” blog posts, and the journalist in me loved to embed links:

  • To cite a source
  • Share copyrighted content
  • To give blogging friends shout-outs
  • Show readers material I didn’t know how to share otherwise.
  • To compensate for WordPress layouts for RSS subscribers.
  • Blogrolls (remember those?)
  • Links to URLs of commenters
  • Commenters change their email addresses

Granted, I knew how ticked off I’d feel when I’d click on a link that went nowhere, so I knew I had to confront those broken links on my blogs someday.

Someday turned out to be yesterday, May 31, 2015.

I installed a WordPress plug-in called Broken Link Checker. Tracking down all the broken links took hours.

I only repaired a couple of links according to context. As more dead links popped up, I made one of those executive decisions to unlink only.

Even though The Horsey Set Net isn’t a particularly active blog, I had thousands of links on posts written since 2008, back when I was under the impression Google wanted us to link to other content creators.

We bloggers are also supposed to link to previous content, especially our evergreen posts. A problem is, many of those posts not only use but depend upon dead or broken links.

I had to unlink all the dead ones. The process gave me second thoughts about linking to anything in this article, like BEA or UPublishU.

Balancing the needs of Google with what’s required for easy, let alone entertaining, reading is difficult.

What’s easy for the machines we depend upon can be awkward for the people consuming the content.

 

 

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