I maintain a Trello list to keep track of potential features for WP-Drudge. The community can vote and comment on proposed features to help me figure out what’s next.
One of the features that came up a while back is a broken link checker to find and fix outbound links that aren’t working anymore. This is a great idea but could be challenging with sites that have many thousands of posts. It couldn’t happen all at once so you’d want a screen that showed progress and gave you actions to take. The idea of how this feature would come together quickly became gigantic.
While planning for version 2.8 (coming out in February 2016), I revisited the idea of a broken link checker. Several people had voted for it so I started to think about how it should come together. While doing a little research, I found a plugin I had used long ago called, appropriately, Broken Link Checker. I was surprised to see that it checks custom field links, something needed to make it useful for WP-Drudge site admins. I decided to give it a go and see if it would help. And it did!
So, instead of building this into the theme, I’ll leave the heavy lifting to the authors of this plugin, Vladimir Prelovac and ManageWP. Below, I’ll detail the steps you need to take to get this plugin up and running for your WP-Drudge site.
Step 1: Install and Activate
Quick and easy:
- Log into your site as an admin
- Go to wp-admin > Plugins > Add New
- In the search box on the top right, enter “broken link checker” and press return/enter
- The first result should be the one you want (called “Broken Link Checker,” recent screenshot is above). Click Install Now
- When the plugin is finished downloading to your site, click the Activate Plugin link that appears
All done and ready to roll! Time to configure …
Step 2: Configure
Most of the options can be set based on your preferences but there are a few that need to be specially configured for the WP-Drudge theme.
- Click on wp-admin > Settings > Link Checker
- On the General tab, set these to whatever you’d like. I would recommend only checking once per week or so as it’s not urgent to get all links fixed all the time. Also, I would deactivate the custom CSS since I don’t want my layout or styling to be affected at all. Turn on “Stop search engines from following broken links” if you have on-site content but if you only have outbound links then this won’t be helpful.
- On the Look For Links In tab, check the Custom fields box and paste the following into the field that appears. This points the plugin at the custom fields that run the WP-Drudge theme and the most helpful for this tutorial:
- Click Save Changes so we don’t lose anything that we’ve done so far
- On the Which Links to Check, only check ones that you’ve used before or might in the future. Otherwise, these settings can stay as the defaults
- Same for Protocols & APIs
- On the Advanced tab, most of these can stay as they are. The default settings are fine but tinker with the execution time, load limit, and target usage if you find your site sluggish with this plugin running.
Step 3: Run it!
We’ve got everything configured, now it’s time to try it all out.
- Go to wp-admin > Tools > Broken Links
- You should see errors there already, if you have any. What’s super-awesome about this plugin is that it shows the issue found and gives you several actions to take. The demo site had several corrections that needed to be made:
- A few things to note:
- You can click on the URL to see the page that’s linked so you can see the issue for yourself
- To change the URL, hover on the row and click Edit under the URL (I found one that had a changed domain but no redirect … quick and easy fix)
- To change the post, hover near the post title and click Edit
- Outbound links have this in the “Link Text” column so you can differentiate between that and anything in your content
- If you’re just using the outbound link and not a page on your site, the best thing to do for those is to delete the post. If you are using an interruption page, leaving that as a 404 isn’t the worst thing in the world but you can also add a redirect elsewhere (to, say, a related category archive page) using something like the Safe Redirect Manager. If you’re deleting content, click the Recheck link first, just to make sure, then click Trash under the post title.
That covers it! A great, free plugin that does about 10 times what I had in mind for a component of the WP-Drudge theme. Give it a shot and if you have any issues or suggestions, post them in the comments below or in the support forums.