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Let’s clean up our digital suburbs – old, broken-down links

Posted Dec 29 2009 2:17pm

actual dendrite branch tipI’m researching sites for a client this morning. One reason I’m paid to do this is that I can move quickly through digital debris, find posts and sites that are current, and assemble a relevant bullet list from our criteria.

Today, though, as the shiny new year beckons, I’m struck by the long trails of digital debris on many websites.

I’m talking about sites that offer many resources, blog rolls, links and freebies to their readers. While it’s a plan with a heart, all those beautiful topics and all their lively links to help each other through the obstacle of the moment, we’d do well to remember that it takes MAINTENANCE.

The high cost of generosity

One site I’m still wading through has the ambitious goal of offering its readership 1,000 free downloads. They have put them in categories. I’m evaluating this site for a place for my client to increase her own exposure, which is also part of this offering on the site. They encourage the contributors to use an opt-in page so the reader will become part of their list. That’s fine.

What’s not fine is that more than 50% of the links I’ve clicked are bringing up error pages. Others are going to the website of the contributor but to a dead page. And one even went to a smarmy miles-long sales page. Very disappointing.

We all could do some tracking and mopping up

The issue is two-fold. At least. On the one hand is the website owner with all the offerings to be organized and maintained. Maintain ‘em. Please. On the other hand, the contributor needs to be tracking where all their offerings are showing up and making sure the links are good.

Just start where you are

Sound like a lot of work? It is. That’s why, today, I am streamlining my own plan for 2010. Engaging the exponential can be done in a manageable way. I’m starting a spreadsheet for every place my current work can be seen (all the things I’ve initiated, that’s all I can do, of course). If it starts to get out of control, I will go back and eliminate the ones that are low performers.

*For starters, let website owners know when they have a lot of broken links. This is the only way we will clean up past linkage we didn’t track.
*While it might be too late to find older links from years past, begin now to track your posted links. Create a plan for the future. Decide how much you can manage and act accordingly.

The web is a chaotic mess, as it should be. But individuals can and must maintain workable threads through their own offerings.

Otherwise, our precious readers have no option but to click away, click away, like a bunch of reindeer on the loose!

Suzanna Stinnett

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