Well, Google’s Penguin update has been a bit of a disaster for this site, so I figure that this is as good a time as any to get to work on some spring cleaning and new investments in to this blog. Read on for some ideas about how you can clean up your own sites and why I’ve disabled bookmarking (again).
The internet is a quickly moving place, and that means links that were valuable a few months or years ago might just be pointing to a 404 today. Broken links aren’t a great signal of quality and up-to-date content, so it is a good idea to take inventory once in a while and fix as many as you can.
Finding outbound broken links
DrLinkCheck has a great service for identifying broken outbound links on your domain. It will scan up to 1,000 of your outbound and internal links, and it will show you any that no longer work as well as any links that point to blacklisted URLs & domains. For WebsiteBuilding.biz, Dr. Link Checker has spotted about 50 bad links – mostly from commenters who no longer have their sites, but also a lot from post links to AP stories that have expired or websites that have simply redesigned things in the last few years. On another domain, I found more than 300 broken links, so this tool will keep you busy with plenty of cleanup work.
Inbound broken links
In addition to broken links on your website, you might also have some backlinks that have become broken over the years. Be sure to check Google’s Webmaster tools once in a while for pages that can’t be found. This can be a good source of locating potential backlinks that aren’t living up to their potential – and a quick 301 redirect can help point them where they should be going.
Investing in Thesis
Thesis has been around for a while, and it really is a great platform for building WordPress themes, but I’ve been lazy and cheap and trying to survive on free templates. Well, no longer! Before this moderate $160 purchase for the developer’s license, I think hosting was probably the only thing I’ve actually spent money on for my websites. Was it worth it? Absolutely! I don’t even fully know what I’m doing yet, but I’ve seen an immediate and significant drop in the bounce rate – as well as a good increase in time spent on page. A good looking site goes a long way to building confidence!
Trashing the Pligg bookmarks folder
I love Pligg – in theory. In reality, it is an SEO disaster waiting to happen. Not only is there the constant flood of spam coming in from auto-pliggers, there are a whole bunch of other optimization problems that come with the platform:
- Blank and repetitive meta descriptions
- Spammed stories that are discarded, yet still accessible via backlinks
- Too many links on each page (well above the ~100 recommended by Matt Cutts)
- Duplicate page titles
- Page titles that are too long
- Long urls with excessive dynamic queries
Some of these issues can be fixed manually by editing the Pligg.tpl file and your template, but that ends up being a whole lot of effort for a service that is mostly just used by black-hatters. Maybe a new version will someday sort out these on-page issues and incorporate better spam protection, but for now I have to part ways for a bit.
For now, I’m pretty happy with the changes, but it will probably take some time to see if these moves can fix the damage done by the Penguin. Of course… the most important thing is to stay active and keep the post count up! It can be difficult when things are going well, but these setbacks are, at the very least, a nice motivator to get busy again.