How to Update Old Posts In Your Archives (including how to find Broken Links)

Today’s episode is about going back into your blog archives do updates – especially paying attention to broken links. Broken links can cause many problems, including potentially exposing your readers to harm.

In this Episode

You can listen to today’s episode above or in iTunes or Stitcher (where we’d also LOVE to get your reviews on those platforms if you have a moment). Today we talk about:

Today we talk about:

  • Why broken links are bad for your blog
  • How finding broken links on your blog can create opportunities
  • How to check for broken links on your blog
  • What to do when you find broken links
  • How to make checking for broken links on your blog a regular habit
  • Other updates you could do while you’re looking at older posts to bring them up to date and make them more useful to readers

Tools and Resources

Further Reading:

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hi and welcome to day 27 or 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. Today, we’re going back into your archives to do some updating, particularly looking at broken links, but I also suggest some other things that you can do while you’re there. You can find today’s show notes at

Hi there. It’s Darren from ProBlogger. Welcome to day 27 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog where we’re giving you a different challenge every day for a month, that you can go away and do that will improve your blog in some way. The idea is that by the end of this month, you’re going to have about 31 different activities that you can come back to over time. Some people do one every day for the rest of their lives, or at least for the next year or so. Others just dip into them from time to time after the 31 days. It’s really up to you.

Today, we’re going to look at broken links, and we’re gonna go on a bit of a broken link hunt on your blog. While we’re at it, I’m going to suggest some other things that you can be doing to some of your old posts on your blog. The thing with broken links is that when you create a link in your blog posts to another site, that link almost always will work right from the start, but over time, you’re bound to start to get broken links. And that’s because other people change their sites. 

Some people delete their sites, some people forget to renew their hosting and the site disappears. Other people change the way their site works, so their link structure might change or they might delete a post on their blog. This can cost you on your blog in two ways because of a change that someone else’s makes.

Firstly, it can have an impact on your SEO. I don’t really know the technicalities of it, but Google recommends that you do check for broken links. More importantly than that, it impacts the readability of your posts. If your readers are clicking links that no longer work, that’s frustrating for them and they blame you for it rather than the other person. It’s good to be checking for broken links.

The question is, how do you do it? There are a few different ways that you can approach this. Firstly, you could go through every post on your blog and manually check every link. That’s going to be something that some of you will find easy because you might only have 10 posts on your blog, you’re relatively new, but for some of you, it’s going to be a big ask. I know on my blogs, I’ve got tens of thousands of posts that are published over the last 13 or so years, so that’s impossible. I can’t do all of them at once manually.

I do actually manually go through old posts every day. I set myself a challenge to do one old post per day to look at it in a variety of different ways, and I’ll share how I do that later. For many of us, we’ll need some tool to do it, and I want to suggest a few. I’ll link to each of these in the show notes for today’s podcast.

The first one is free. It’s pretty easy to use. It’s Google Webmaster Tools. If you haven’t signed up for Google Webmaster Tools, you probably should do that. It’s going to give you a whole heap of good information. Basically, it shows you how Google sees your site in a whole heap of ways. One way is that when they find a broken link on your site as they’re crawling your site (as they do every day), they will make a note of any error that they get and if you can go in and look at the crawl error page, you’ll see some of the broken links on your site. Interestingly, as I look at mine, it doesn’t find all of the broken links on my site. It may be a good starting place, but you might want to dig a little deeper and use another tool as well.

A second option might be to use a WordPress plugin if you’re using WordPress and there’s numerous of these. One that I know some people recommend is Broken Link Checker. I will give a bit of a warning here, though, many people find that these link checkers through WordPress plugins can slow down your site a lot, as it does put strain on your database. This is particularly true when you have a large site. These checkers are crawling your site in the back end all the time and they do notify you when they find a broken link, but it puts some pressure on your database and your server. It might slow things down, so be a little bit careful.

A couple of other tools that I know people use and recommend—I’ve used one of these over the years—one is called Xenu’s Link Sleuth. This is a Windows-only app. It’s very comprehensive, it’s quite technical, and it goes beyond just link finding, but it will find broken links on your blog.

The other one is Screaming Frog SEO Spider. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? There’s no screaming that goes on in it, but this is a similar app type thing that you download and run it from your desktop. There’s a Windows version, Mac version, Linux version, I think there might be something else as well for memory. There’s a free version of this which will let you scan for a limited number of links, but then there’s also a paid version as well which is unlimited. The thing is £99. It’s very advanced and it goes way beyond just checking for broken links. That’s one of the things that it does, but it’s designed as an SEO tool, but quite technical.

Another one that you can check for free is W3C Link Checker. I’ll put all the links of today’s in the show notes. This one just simply lets you plug in your URL, and then it goes away and checks. It goes deep, deep, deep into your site. The downside of this one is that it can take a long time. I put my URL to Digital Photography School in there about 20 minutes ago and it’s still crawling so it’s gonna go very deep. There are ways that you can make it shallower. You might want to check that one out, but go make yourself a coffee while it does its thing.

Whatever tool you use, I think it’s probably worth doing this exercise. I would recommend you start with Google Webmaster Tools, because it’s going to give you some other good information on your site and how Google sees your site as well. You may want to use one of the other tools as well. When you find a broken link, you’ve got a few different options. One, you could fix it if you’ve made a mistake or if the link has changed in some way. You can find what you were originally wanting to link to just change that link.

Secondly, you might need to delete that link if it no longer exists, or you might want to find an alternative link that you could put in there as well. You may or may not need to disclose the change that you’ve made. If the post doesn’t completely make sense anymore. You might want to put a note, I’ve deleted a link here because it no longer exists, and just let anyone who reads that post know what you’ve done. In some cases, you may need to delete the post altogether.

There’s been a few times where the whole point of my post has been to link to a product or a tool, and then that product or tool disappears. The post no longer makes sense at all, so I have deleted some of those posts as well. It is important to look for broken links.

There are some horrible stories as well where it actually hurts your readers. I know there’s been a few bloggers that I’ve talked to who have previously linked to blog posts or products, and then that domain has expired. Then, someone who does something malicious or something a bit dodgy takes over that domain. People could get malware or viruses by clicking on that link and ending up on a malicious page. It could take someone to a porn page or something else that can impact your brand, so you do want to check those sorts of links periodically.

The last thing I’ll suggest you do if you don’t have a big site at the moment or if you do use these tools and don’t find any broken links, choose an old post that you can go back and do a bit of a review on. Find something that maybe is a year old or even older if you’ve been blogging for a while and just do a bit of a review of it. Give it a once over for spelling, grammar, and perhaps you could add a nice image to it. Perhaps you need to change some of the formatting, particularly if you redesigned your blog, and then just ask yourself some questions along these lines. Is the post still relevant today? Could you update it? Do you need to delete it because it’s completely irrelevant, or should you write another post that gives an update on that older one? 

As I go back through my old posts, I always and do choose one every day to do this exercise. I always asked myself, could I reshare this post on social media? Is it still relevant today? Is it an evergreen post? Secondly, is there a way that I could repurpose it in some way so could I turn it into something else, whether that be a SlideShare show, an infographic, a podcast, or something else? Going back into your archives like this every day to find the broken things but also find the opportunities can be a really beneficial exercise to do.

Today’s show notes can be found at, where I do have some links to the tools that I mentioned in today’s show. There’s also the opportunity for you to give us a comment and let us know how you found today’s challenge. I’m also going to link in today’s show notes to a survey that we’ve got running at the moment for you as podcast listeners.

As you know, we’re approaching the end of our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series. As I indicated at the start of these podcasts, I’d like to continue on beyond these 31 days. I can’t promise that things are going to continue on a daily basis. In fact, they won’t, but I do wish to continue the podcast. I’d love to base my future podcasts upon your needs, your questions, and the challenges that you face as bloggers.

I’ve set up a short survey. You can find it linked on today’s show notes. Again, they’re at It’s just a few questions that tell us a little bit about who you are as a blogger—it’s all anonymous, so we won’t be tracking you—but also some of the challenges that you face. There’s also the opportunity to give us some feedback on the podcast that we’ve had so far. We want to know a little bit about how long you’d like podcasts to be, what format you’d like, whether they be interviews, teaching or something else. I certainly will be looking at every response that we’ve got to that survey and basing future episodes upon it. Again, for today’s show notes and that survey.

How did you go with today’s challenge?

What did you do to check for broken links on your blog? What ideas did it give you for improving your blog?

I’d love to hear your feedback on this approach to keeping links up to date on your blog in the comments below.

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