Bill Bennett

Bill Bennett

Parts of the internet are now badly broken

Every month I open up the excellent Integrity app on my MacBook.

It crawls my main, work-related website at looking for broken links. Every month there are a dozen or so new broken links. That is, the links that my website points to are no longer there.

This month there were eight new broken links. There are 1250 pages on the site and more than 4000 links. In round numbers, about two to three percent of links from my site disappear every year.

Pages move

Three or four times as many links move to a different URL, sometimes many more have a change of address. This is annoying, but it is fixable.

The dead URLs are more of a problem. Much of the time all I can do is remove the link from my pages and, perhaps, indicate that there was a link, but the page at the other end has since vapourised. Sometimes I can point to the page at the internet archive.

At the moment a few hundred of the 4000 or so outgoing links on my site point to the Internet Archive. It can be slow and difficult to reach, but it is an excellent resource. When I’m feelingn flush, I donate a few dollars to keep it going.

Missing in action

Sometimes pages disappear for good reasons. The company or publication is no longer in business so there’s no-one to pay the hosting bills. Often, it’s just an annoying business practice of purging old pages more or less for the sake of it. Contrary to popular wisdom, purging old pages doesn’t tend to help with search engine optimisation in general.

There are those site owners who prefer to wipe or rewrite history. Whatever.

What is clear is thsat the number of linkable pages is in decline. At one point my site linked to more than twice as many external pages. That’s dropped over time and I appear to be removing links faster than I add new ones.