Not too long ago, I was checking on my blog stats and realized that, although Traffic Generation Cafe was only about 18 months old and published over 300 posts, my comment numbers were through the roof.
Getting close to 27,000 comments.
You might be thinking right now “Wow, can’t wait to get to those numbers!”.
I understand the desire to have that kind of social proof, but what about responding to such an astronomical numbers of comments?
How about linking out to that many sites/pages?
How about controlling spam, which of course increases with popularity?
How about dealing with broken links?
I was pretty clueless of the impending issue I am about to share with you until one of my commentators mentioned a tool that they use to check for broken links - DrLinkCheck.com.
Like most bloggers, I have Broken Link Checker plugin installed at Traffic Generation Cafe.
As of the writing of this post, it shows that I have only 16 broken links on my blog.
Even after I used their “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.
DrLinkCheck found 78 broken links in just the first 1,000 links it scanned.
What Broken Link Checker Misses
1. CommentLuv Links
Broken Link Checker does NOT check CommentLuv links.
So even if you “unlink” the commentator’s name field, the CL link will be left behind.
Also, it’s very possible that even though name field link is not broken, the CL link is – the post might’ve been deleted or moved.
I hope this doesn’t discourage you from using CommentLuv; in my opinion, the benefits still far outweigh any potential downsides, especially if you are using CommentLuv Premium.
As long as you keep your eyes open for broken CL links…
2. Comment Replies
What happens when you delete a comment with a broken link?
The reply to that comment stays behind and still links to the comment that no longer exists, thus creating a broken link.
3. Links Within Comments
Broken Link Checker doesn’t check the links left within the body of a comment.
Other problems with Broken Link Checker:
4. It’s a Plugin
It’s also designed to run in the background checking for broken links every so often, which basically means it could slow down your blog.
5. It Eats Up Your Memory
Since I have so many links on my blog (mostly from comments, of course), the file size of Broken Link Checker 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!
More Broken Links Sources
I should’ve become a researcher of sorts…
I love, love, love digging up these 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 these:
1. Guest Authors
Even though I don’t publish guest posts all that often, I still have 53 authors who contributed at least one post in the past.
Turned out that at least 4 of them that I know of (and I haven’t checked them all yet), closed down their shops – their blogs no longer exist.
Yet here I am, linking to them within my content and comments – what a waste.
2. Spam Comments
This is very obvious: we shouldn’t approve comments if the commentators are after one thing – a backlink from our blogs.
Yet, it’s easy for me to say it and do it NOW.
When I first started blogging and heard crickets for a while, I approved every single comment – just about.
I was appalled at the number of spam comments as I went through the comments published on my blog during the first couple of months of its existence…
I firmly believe that we shouldn’t publish trackbacks in our comment sections.
First of all, about 95% of them are spam these days.
Secondly, there’s a question of reciprocal linking when you do publish even legit trackbacks: they link to your post, you link back to theirs…
I didn’t know any of it when I first started.
So yes, I was linking to a bunch of spam sites through trackbacks.
By the way, learn more about trackbacks and pingbacks while you are at it.
4. Blogspot.com Blogs
This goes for any free blogging platform, not just Blogspot.
The “ditch rate” for those blogs is much higher since it doesn’t cost a penny to start a blog on such platforms.
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” errors.
This one was yet another accidental discovery.
As I was looking through the old comments on my blog, I occasionally said to myself “Hey, haven’t seen him/her for a while; I wonder how they are doing.”
So I’d click over to some blogs and in many cases I found that they stopped blogging a long time ago, adding to the ever-increasing rate of failed blogs.
However, during one such check-up I discovered that one such blog of an old blogging friend of mine was since bought out by someone (probably because it had a high PR) and became a part of an autoblogging network.
So all of a sudden, all the links from my blog to his became bad neighborhood links as far as I am concerned.
And no link checker in the world would ever know to tell you that.
What’s even worse, that blog was under his personal name, which means that if my friend ever decides to come back to internet marketing, his name will always be attached to a spam blog (splog).
Broken Links: Why Bother?
I know, I know, we are all overwhelmed and, in most cases, overworked and underpaid.
Why even bother with this project?
1. Reader Experience
When your readers start clicking around and see 404 pages popping up, they’ll start to question your credibility.
To them, if your site has broken links, your product is unlikely to be error-free.
You end up loosing readers and potential customers.
2. SEO Considerations
No, Google won’t necessarily penalize your site just because you have some broken links.
However, in its Webmaster Guidelines it clearly states:
- Check for broken links and correct HTML.
Yes, it’s important.
You have very limited time with Google search spiders (to learn more, read about how Google works), so sending them to a bunch of broken links is not the best idea.
Also, even though you can’t be penalized for links TO your site, you certainly can be penalized for links FROM your site, since they are entirely under your control.
If some of your old links turn out to be bad neighborhood links, I’d worry about that.
Broken Link Checker Alternatives
I had a very hard time finding a (free) tool that did a thorough job at checking ALL broken links on my blog.
Another requirement for a good tool: it needs to show me WHERE the link is located and not just point out that I have a broken link.
Here are some potential candidates:
Google Webmaster Tools
I only mention this one here because I have a feeling one of the comments below will say “Why not GWT?”
Because it takes forever to sort through the links and actually find them on the right pages.
If you have all the time in the world, then yes, those links need to be fixed.
But if you are on a limited time budget, we need something more effective.
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 are free.
After that you can increase the limit to 5,000 links for $10.
However, for a site like mine, 5,000 links is nothing.
Plus what am I going to do the next time I need to check the links?
Pay another $10?
So, if you have a small site, this tool is great.
For larger sites, you need to keep looking.
This tool does everything I’d like it to do – for up to 3,000 pages per site.
So if you have a smaller site, this one is perfect.
They also offer an extended paid version of the software, but they made it so difficult to find out more about their plans and prices, that I gave up.
Talk about turning away potential customers!
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.
I first learned about this tool from Donna Fontenot’s Monitor Your Site’s Link Health post (thanks for the tip, Donna!).
LinkAider.com doesn’t just monitor your broken links, but your entire site health.
Find most linked pages, analyze anchor text, find duplicate titles, analyze your webpages’ speed and more.
LinkAider checks 500 pages for free.
Even if your website has more pages, usually 500 pages check is enough to spot serious problems.
They have various pricing options for bigger sites.
LinkTiger does one thing only, but does it extremely well – hunts down any broken links on your sites and lets you know about them.
I found this to be a perfect solution for the site owners who want to make sure they nip all the broken links at the bud, but don’t have the time to do it manually.
There’s no free option with LinkTiger, but they do offer some inexpensive options for their clients – it all depends on your site size.
Broken Links Be Gone
Now that I’ve checked half of my site (it’s a huge job, I tell ya!), 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).
On a different note, as I was scanning the old blog comments, I couldn’t help but notice some of the bloggers who stood out from the crowd.
The awesome bloggers below have been following Traffic Generation Cafe just about since its launch.
They saw me through thick and thin and apparently still like me – they still visit me on a regular basis and support me in every way they can.
And for that, a HUGE THANK YOU to them!
Traffic Generation Cafe Gives a Shout to:
“Founder of http://triberr.com. Lousy Martial Artist & recovering Engineer. Pretty good songwriter, dog trainer & a biz blogger. And, global force for badassery.”
- How To Build a Community of Fanatics
- Klout Discovers a Renowned Sheep Expert in Mr. Danny Brown
- Reverse Engineering Dead Space Commercial
“If you think you can or if you think you cannot, you are right! Working from home has been a very rewarding experience for me. It has allowed me to meet a diverse group of people from all over the world.”
“I must create the worlds that I wish to explore. This blog is my literary outlet, where I may lay down futuristic laws, promote a philosophy of simplification or simply marvel at the changes in the way the web and other systems work.”
“I want to share what I’ve learned with you and as I continue to acquire new skills and strategies I will focus on providing content that will help you reach your goals.”
- My Podcasting Gear and the Ms. Ileane Speaks Podcast is Now on iTunes
- How to Embed YouTube Videos and Podcasts to Keep Readers on Your Blog
- Basic Blog Tips Takes The My 7 Links Challenge
“American broadcast journalist, TV presenter, news anchor, talk show host and internet personality.”
- NPR, Lana Del Rey, The Beatles, Nicki Minaj, Fame…
- How To Hold A Garage Sale: Tips!
- eBook Review 001 ::: The Blog Bank (a very surprising review)
“We live great lives, in a great time and in a great place – this universe we call home. Are you living the life you want? Do you have everything you need and want? Or are you missing out on life’s great experiences? The world has been given to you, all you have to do is receive it.”
- I just took away all your electronics. Now, who are you?
- I can’t tell you how to be social, I can only tell you to be yourself.
- Ah, sir?! Here’s your change!
“We all know that Average doesn’t cut it anymore. To thrive in today’s economy you need to be Excellent… However, what’s the point in being excellent if nobody knows you exist??”
- What To Say & What NEVER to Say On Video (if you want results)
- Top Three Mistakes To Avoid When Branding Yourself
- Relationship Marketing – Why is Video Such A Powerful Tool?
“I’m here to share what I’ve learned – everything I write is based on my experience both good and bad. However, no matter how much knowledge I share, if you don’t put any of it into action, it won’t mean a thing. I encourage you to take action today! ”
- How You’ll Know When It’s Time to Upgrade Your Web Host
- 5 Tips to Getting More Likes on Your Facebook Page
- Not Afraid To Say I Disagree With Social Media Experts
“IT professional and owner of TechWork.dk (IT-Blog). Writes about all kind of tech stuff, gadgets, smartphones and WordPress blogs.”
- How I got from nothing to PageRank 3 in 7 months
- Review of Samsung BD-D8500 HDD Recorder
- Review of HTC Radar with Windows Phone 7.5 Mango
“Because of the varied experiences in my life, I have many stories to tell. My blog is sprinkled with anecdotes about my life, some humorous and some serious. I also write fiction in a series of posts.”
- Two Sons for Christmas
- The View From My Office
- The End of Lady Dowdy
“I love growing as a person in so many ways and I have always enjoyed helping others to grow too. Whenever I learn something new that really improves my life I cannot wait to share it with people!”
“I’ve been online since 2003 and I’ve grabbed quite a few of those online shiny baubles. My experiences, the great and the downright ugly, mean that I can share and help out new and not-so-new marketers.”
- Easy Article Starters for Affiliate Marketers – It Just Got Easier
- What Can You Get Done For Your Online Business In 15 Minutes?
- Google Analytics – Discover and Do
“I am on a mission to help serious and motivated entrepreneurs who would like to build a successful business from home or from anywhere…”
- Attraction Marketing – 101 Surefire Ways To Attract Targeted Prospects
- Blogging Success – Reflecting on my Exciting Blogging Journey in 2011
- How to Get More Retweets, Exposure, Traffic and Sales on Twitter
“I’ve been writing since I was old enough to hold a pen and plan to continue until I can’t hold a pen anymore.”
- Are You Using These 7 Important Tools to Promote Yourself as a Writer?
- Don’t Call Me Lucky!
- Freelance Writing Tips for New Writers
“Entrepreneur. Internet Lifestyle Junkie. Runner. Affiliate Marketer. All Around Cool Guy.”
- 23 A/B Split Tests that Get More Subscribers for Your Email List
- 7 Actions that Increase Blog Traffic by 25.3%
- Build My Rank Review – How to Get Backlinks that Google LOVES
“Involuntary blogger and stay at home mom. Passions are Rocky Road ice cream from Baskin Robbins and quiet places, preferably at the same time.”
- Link Building for My Blog: What I’ve Done and Will Do Now
- Step by Step Blogging #1: New Bloggers, Start Here
- Smart SEO Tactics: A Blogger’s Quest to Learn and Implement SEO
“Social Media Connector. Blogger. Foodie. Enjoy SMM & Internet Marketing. Health & Fitness Enthusiast. Runner & Biker.”
- 11 Mistakes and Ways Why Your Social Media Fails
- Law of Reciprocity: Why You Should Think, Twice, Before Using it Unconditionally in Your Social Blogging Channels
- Guide How to Import Blogger to WordPress with Error in Your Google Account and Can’t Authorize
“I am a self-professed information junkie and I love learning about new topics and ideas. More importantly I love sharing what I learned with others and that is why I chose blogging as my vehicle for expression.”
“I have no recollection of when or at what time I created this blog. When people ask, I say that it’s all gone and it’s the future that’s important, not the past. Well, it’s an answer, because I feel like I created this blog in another life, and I can’t say that, can I?”
- My First Client – I Am the Proudest Man Alive
- Free Kindle Books – How To Find Them
- How to Name a Business When You Have Absolutely No Ideas Left
“Web and Graphics Designer Extraordinaire (Traffic Generation Cafe design is here to attest), Internet Marketer, Network Marketer and basically anything to do with the internet, I’m into it.”
- Back and Better Than Ever, With Some of My Favorite Tools
- Free Traffic Tips Part 2 | eBook Directories and Document Sharing Sites
- Easy Squeeze Pages with Thesis Theme
Carolyn Nicander Mohr
“My blog is designed for tech lovers, tech haters and anyone else who wants or needs to learn about the world of personal technology.”
- The Best App Ever! All Star Edition
- Invisible Hand – For Economical Online Shopping
- Your Secret “Other” Facebook Messages
“I’m not a millionaire. I’m not a full time ‘pro-blogger’. I’m not an ‘Internet Marketing Guru’. I am a blogger and entrepreneur, and I live in the beautiful rainforests of Tasmania with my family.”
- Magnetic Headline Writing Made Easy – 5 Simple Steps to Dynamite Headlines
- 25 Ways to Discover Good Blog Topics in Your Niche
- How to use Strategic Blog Commenting to Market Your Blog
“At iBlogZone, we provide you with the resources to start and build your Home Based Business. Everything else depends on you. In a nutshell, you learn, you plan, you execute, you monitor your progress, you re-adapt or adjust, and basically, rinse and repeat. That’s how you get things done.”
- The Best SEO Practices and Tips 2012
- Best WordPress SEO Plugins For 2012
- How To Set Up Google Authorship Markup With rel=author, Real Simple Way
“This blog was designed to help empower and inspire you to live life to the fullest and to create the reality you truly want for yourself.”
- My Secret To Blogging Success
- Attention All Baby Boomers…It Is Never Too Late
- How Bloggers and Content Marketers Can Generate Unlimited Video Ideas
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 you have to.
And DO give this post a shout on social media!
Image credit: amazing painting by Karol Bak.