It’s a Scottish tradition to tidy the home before New Year comes in.
At the end of last year, I decided to follow this tradition on my blog. Come Hogmanay, otherwise known as Auld Year’s Nicht in Scotland, I’d tidied up newmiddle-earth.blogspot.com.
- I brought all my post-labels up to date and created new ones that were relevant to topics covered in each post.
- I updated the alt attributes on each image tag and removed the link-to-image that’s automatically added when it's uploaded into Blogger. Some months ago, I started taking these measures with all new postings.
I’d learnt that this provision was courtesy to the visually impaired who may choose to use a speaking browser - otherwise known as a screen reader (incidentally, I also removed Odiogo last year for I found it did not provide a significant advantage).
- I checked links on all posts dated after 1 June 2008 to ensure that they were still active and relevant. There were some webs that had actually changed (their content was no longer relevant).
I found alternatives for the few that were in this group. There were others that simply didn’t work any more. I either found alternative sites to link to or I removed the offending links.
No apparent luxury:
I do not have the luxury of a link-checker for my site in Blogger. I use the ‘check links’ facility in DreamWeaver on my development web site at work, but I can’t run my blog site through it. I’ve searched Google several times over the months and not found any quick link-checkers for blog sites. Latterly, I began to wonder how other bloggers checked the links in their archived posts.
I have 131 posts dated 2008 on my blog. Most have at least one link to another site. It may be to a blog site or a web page. In a few more months, I’m going to have a sizable lot of posts to look after, and a corresponding set of links to maintain.
It’s dead Jim:
There is nothing I find more disappointing, when following a link on someone’s post that looks like an interesting lead, than getting the dreaded ERROR 404 or other such ‘Web-site Not Found’ notice.
Web links have a half-life. They don’t necessarily last forever. Some break altogether, which means the unfortunate reader goes nowhere on click. It could be that the linked site doesn’t exist anymore, or that it’s been relocated, with no provision for redirection.
It could also be that the site has gone down, and that the fault may be rectified in the near future. I’ve found it pays to wait a bit before revising a dead link if it’s to a site that I can trust.
There’s life Jim, but not as we know it:
Sometimes the content on a site changes. As a result, the site may no longer be relevant to the context of the link in my post. While this rarely happens with links to blog posts, it is not an uncommon problem where links to web pages are used.
The need for vigilance in this regard is paramount when web links are used in elearning modules. Though the performance of the links on my blog is not as critical as this, it can be regarded by visitors as a reflection of my blog.
What is good practice?
When I find that links are faulty on my blog posts or web pages, I fix them by finding alternative relevant sites or remove the offending links in courtesy to my readers.
Am I being too fastidious in bringing old posts up to date? Does it really matter if old links don’t work anymore?
How do you check for broken links on your blog posts?