Today I was reading a couple friends’ blog posts and noticed something odd about their links.  A number of them had a strike-through applied to it. Like this. My first thought was a Chrome plugin that I use to make sure I remembered to make my links “nofollow”, but it was disabled so it wasn’t me. I double-checked the page in Internet Explorer and saw the same thing (as well in Safari on my iPhone) and sure enough the strike-through was there.

I first contacted Confessions of an Over-Worked Mom to let her know about the broken link. Oddly it looked fine to her, but I’m sure she was viewing it in her WordPress admin area (or a cached version on her computer). The source of the page clearly showed class=”broken_link” as part of the hyperlink and a reference at the top of the page style type=”text/css”>.broken_link, a.broken_link { text-decoration: line-through;. She mentioned that the link was a tracking link, so I used that information to do a little sleuthing.

I found out about a popular WordPress plugin called “Broken Link Checker” and inquired if she was using that particular plugin. Affirmative. The plugin was doing its job and had flagged the link as bad since the tracking link didn’t return a valid response. The default settings for Broken Link Checker are to add a strike-through to live links if it determines them to be bad (it also is supposed to notify the author of the post via email or the dashboard). She couldn’t see the bad links on her page because she’s probably using a good caching plugin (correctly) and the link checker takes some time to parse the links. Eventually she would see them but not until after the cache expired.

Next I messaged Mummy Deals who appeared to have the same issue. What a coincidence to me that I see this issue on two consecutive posts I’m reading. In her case I noticed that the links were actually bad.  One had a “.pd” instead of “.pdf” and another had two URL’s mashed into one. Again the Broken Link Checker is doing its job, but I feel displaying the strike-through to the end-user is probably not the correct way to implement it, especially for those bloggers using a cache plugin.

This got me to thinking about this plugin and its usefulness. You can’t really rely on it to check your recently-posted articles. Links do go bad over time (page addresses change, companies go out of business, etc.) so Broken Link Checker is handy to catch those issues and help you quickly fix them. But it shouldn’t be a substitute for good blog writing practices.

What should you do to make sure your links are good? As soon as you are done writing a post, check your links! Do they land where you expect them to? Do they pop up in the same window or a new window? Your links should almost always be “nofollow” – use a good plugin to help you with that. Never manually type your links into WordPress. We have cut/paste for a reason!

As for the Broken Link Checker plugin, I suggest you turn off the option that “makes broken links display differently in posts”. Mistakes happen, but you don’t need to broadcast them to the world. If you checked your links as pointed out above it shouldn’t be an issue, but as exhibited in the first example, this plugin will flag some types of good links as bad. Also be sure you are either getting the notification emails or paying attention to your dashboard so you can respond promptly to the issues the plugin sees.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to contact a fellow blogger if you see something odd about their post. Most won’t take offense and both of you may learn something new from the issue. I usually have 10-12 drafts of a post before they go live as I check and double-check them for accuracy, fluidity, punctuation, grammar and hilarity (just seeing if you’re still with me), but I know I still miss things and truly enjoy networking with other writers even if on a technical level.

10 thoughts on “Blogger to WordPress: Broken Links

  1. I actually had a company contact me to let me know they recently removed a link that I had linked on my blog for a review. That was so nice to find out from them.

    1. I completely agree. But like many, my wife started on Blogger since it was free and no URL needed. But yes, WP gives you so much freedom!

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