How I Cleaned Up All The Links And Redirects On My 10-Year-Old Blog

By Gary Arndt of Everything Everywhere

After days of staring at a computer screen, I’m mostly done with fixing all of the redirects and links on my website. I literally had to fix thousands of redirects and links and fixed almost all of them by hand. Here is a good outline of the problem in case someone else has to go through the same thing.

How I ended up with a huge number of redirects

1) I deleted 3000 blog posts and redirected all of them.

For example, I would delete a page like this: /2009/12/07/Daily-Photo-Volcano-in-Hawaii/

and redirect it to /2008/03/12/Volcanoes-National-Park-Hawaii/

2) When I changed my URL structure /2008/03/12/Volcanoes-National-Park-Hawaii/ became /Volcanoes-National-Park-Hawaii/

3) Then I went from HTTP to HTTPS

You can see how this could become a mess.

Add to this that inside all the actual posts were links pointing to the old URL’s, which was dependent on the redirects working.

How I cleaned everything up

1) Run Broken Link Checker plugin

If you have any internal links which are broken, fix them. You can fix them right in the plugin.

It also lists any links which are redirecting. Fix all of the internal links and have them point directly to the current, correct URL.
301 redirects pass MOST link juice, but you should have the correct URL listed so Google knows where to go and so that 100% of link juice is passed.

2) Run the Redirection plugin

(I already know that Craig Martin will point out that doing redirections from .htaccess is a superior way to do redirects, and he would be correct. However, I’m trying to manage 1,000’s of redirects and doing it from a plugin at this stage just simplifies everything. You can also set up the plugin so it runs all the redirects through .htaccess.)

I imported all the redirects I had in Yoast and .htaccess to Redirection so they were all in one place.
I then went through and checked everything, looking for conflicting redirects (there were a few) and broken redirects.
This was very time consuming, but necessary. There were many different types of errors I encountered, and I can’t see how it could have been automated.

3) Go to Google Webmaster tools and look for 404 errors that Google has found. Fix them in Redirection.

(I had over 300).

4) Go to the 404 log in the Redirection plugin and look for 404 errors from normal URL’s (not urls with odd strings after the URL)

I found quite a few of these. These are pages that, for whatever reason, never had redirects set up.

After all of this, I have almost all of the old URL’s now redirecting to a new, functioning URL on my website. I also have all the internal links on my website pointing to current, non-redirecting URLs.

5) While I was at it, I took the time to delete over 1,000 links on my website

These included wasted internal links going to unnecessary pages, old links pointing to non-existent websites, links in comments to sites which haven’t been updated in years, links old to news stories in podcast show notes, etc.

By shoring up my links, I’m keeping more link juice on the site and directing it to the pages I care most about.
There is still some tweaking I have to do, and I could spend more time going through bad comment links, but I’m not going to bother.

For all practical purposes, the structural changes to my website are pretty much done. I think once the dust clears after a month or two with Google, I’ll be in a much better position than I was before.

If I had to do it over again, I would change the URL structure first and make the move to HTTPS at the same time. Then I would have deleted the blog posts and redirected them.

My blog is almost 11 years old and there was a lot of brush which had accumulated over time. The site now is much cleaner, leaner and meaner. I don’t foresee ever having to change the structure of my site going forward or doing a mass deletion of posts.

This post originally appeared in the Travel Blog Success Facebook Group and was republished here with permission of the author.

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