Posted On July 24, 2017 by Print This Post

Housekeeping Tips with Helen Henderson

Most people I’ve met don’t enjoy housekeeping. Some even loath it and make putting off the “special” cleanings an art form. Prettying up the mundane tasks with music or dance steps still can’t bring enjoyment to defrosting a freezer or scrubbing away a stubborn ring from the bathtub. Our professional lives also require housecleaning. Some tasks need to be daily, or even hourly, while others fit more into a seasonal effort.

There have been numerous articles written on the most common housekeeping task–backups. Personally I firmly believe there are gremlins who take special delight in ruining our carefully laid out procedures. You’re in an Internet dark area so neither the manual or automatic backups to the cloud are working. The USB ports break so no thumb drive access. And of course, after four days of really productive writing, you want to backup and you receive the message of an imminent hard drive failure. Five backup protocols done religiously and you’re still out of luck.

But this post is about another area where electronic gremlins like to dance and snip–links. Given enough time, posts, outbound links, and use of graphics, eventually a visitor to your site is going to come up with either a blank box where a picture should be or the dreaded 404 error. Those of you who follow my posts known that I am doing a 52-week challenge. What triggered the idea for this post was the error messages received on each week’s list instead of going to a post.

There are several reasons why we should be concerned with broken links. Pointers to non-existent content can become detrimental to your search marketing goals. Search engines not only explore them as a method of drawing their maps of the Internet, but they also use links as a measure of site quality and authority. What good is updating your book’s sales page if the link to it, even from your own site, doesn’t connect?

Broken links most often occur as a result of two common changes:

Did you rename a page? If you haven’t changed all of your internal links to reflect that change, you probably have broken links on your website. On occasion a page has to be rebuilt to reflect the current data. The title is the same but unbeknownst to you when the page was saved a version number was added. So www.myblog/p/Book-Title became www.myblog/p/Book-Title1 and all the links to the original page no longer work.

Changing the name of a post changes the permalink. If you’ve signed up for a hop and put in the post URL during registration, and then went back and changed the post and its title, those who click on the link in the hop won’t get to see your sparkling content. The same applies if you link within your own website.

Or you might have deleted a page? If your internal links don’t reflect that, you probably have some broken links—and if anyone else on the Internet has linked to that page, their link is broken too.

Not all broken links are your fault. They may result from something you haven’t intentionally done. During a recent review of one blog, 532 web pages were analyzed with 31 broken links reported. Only two were on the requester’s own website. The rest were links to outside sources. You host other authors on your blog or website or you’ve given interviews and put a note on your site sending visitors to the interview. A few years pass and the other site cleans house deleting some of the older posts. Your link is no longer valid and the careful promotion is now a hindrance. A website may be closed or taken down, invalidating the links pointing to it. Another way links get broken is the website changes its domain name. Links pointing to the old name might then become invalid.

The above raises the questions of how to locate–and fix–broken links on your website.

So what are the best strategies for fixing broken links on your website?

Avoid linking to PDF documents if possible. Because PDFs are documents rather than web pages, their content can change without notice, and their names are more likely to contain characters such as spaces that must be translated into safe codes for URLs. Large PDFs may also download slowly and cause a timeout error. An exception would be your own PDF documents as their access can be better controlled.

Perform a broken link check regularly. Discovering broken links might be done manually or automatically. Automated methods, including plug-ins for WordPress or using broken link checker software shows where changes are required.

How to fix a broken link can be done in a variety of ways and changes on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes it means deleting a post. If a change is temporary, use of the html comment command could suffice. The technique means you don’t have to rekey text when you want the text to be live. It also works when a book is temporarily out of a particular market. If the broken link refers to a content source and you want to provide the additional resource to your reader, finding a substitute site and directing people there would solve the problem.

For those who are more technically inclined (and whose site allows the capability) there are other options. If you moved a page or renamed a link, set up a 301 redirect to automatically send the visitor from the old page location to the new one. No tracking of the old one is involved. With no extra inconvenience to the visitor, you are much less likely to lose readership.

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How often do you houseclean your blog or website?? If you have a favorite tip for keeping it clean of broken links, share it in the comments.

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 hatchlings-vengeanceHatchling’s Vengeance 

Glyn, former bodyguard and companion to a dragon lord, is now Lady Glynnes Janaleigh, a dragon lord in her own right. And she has found her intended mate. But, finding him is only half the battle. Keeping him alive is the other when duty has its own demands and Fate holds all the cards. On one card is written — A mating flight does not always include the one you want.

The cult leader, the Parant, means to have his vengeance. No matter how long it takes or how many innocents die, he will kill all dragon shifters. Saving your kind—or yourself—requires more than the power of a dragon soul twin when vengeance threatens all. Not even dragon fire and talons are enough to overcome the mind control wielded by the one called—the Parant. Your only hope lies in the fact that vengeance has two paths. One is death—the other is love.

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Helen HendersonBio: A former feature-story writer and correspondent, Henderson has also written fiction as long as she could remember. Her background in history and managing a museum provides her with a unique insight into world building. Her heritage reflects the contrasts of her Gemini sign. She is a descendent of a coal-miner’s daughter and an aviation flight engineer. This dichotomy shows in her writing which crosses genres from historical adventures and westerns to science fiction and fantasy. In the world of fantasy, she is the author of the Dragshi Chronicles and the Windmaster novels.

Find her on online at her author website, at Goodreads or follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/history2write. Excerpts of her work, writing tips, and information on new releases can be found on her blog at http://helenhenderson-author.blogspot.com.

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4 Responses to “Housekeeping Tips with Helen Henderson”

  1. Evening Helen!

    Oh I do hate house cleaning =) but I’m a tech fiend so I do cleanup and backup a LOT of my computer work. One thing I have discovered is a lot of people change photo names or pdf files, just as you said, and then the link becomes broken. And trying to remember all the pages that linked to that pdf? Impossible =)

    Great tips, thanks for the reminders!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Peters | July 24, 2017, 7:54 pm
    • Hi from a fellow housework hater. One issue I have with backups is that any little blip (such as a computer breakdown) throws things off. I find a plethora of backups on various media and have to winnow them down to the latest. Thanks for mentioning changing of file names.

      Posted by Helen Henderson | July 26, 2017, 2:50 pm
  2. The broken link problem seems to be getting more common. I’ve noticed it on a lot of author pages and on my own website. And then I went to check my website and found it had completely disappeared! I did a Google search and there it was, listed with a different server than the one I had been paying for almost ten years. I wrote and called (left messages, I should say) and nothing was done about it. So when the server’s bill arrived, I cancelled the service. Since I don’t have any books that need marketing, it’s not a big loss, but it is VERY annoying. I’m leaving it alone for the time being, but when and if I create a new website, I won’t be paying GoDaddy to host it.

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | July 25, 2017, 10:16 am

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