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Blog Maintenance

Movable Type weblogs require some level of maintenance, beyond just adding new content. Here are some suggestions that can help keep your blog running smoothly. If you have other suggestions not on this list, please let us know in the comments section.

Dead Links

If you link to any other websites from your blog, and or have comments or TrackBacks enabled, you need to periodically scan your site to make sure that your external links are still active. Links with URLs that are no longer valid give a "404" server error when someone clicks on them.

One of the biggest deadlink culprits can come from TrackBack links. Periodically click on the "TrackBack" button on the left side of your weblog edit screen and review your Trackbacks. Clicking on the links given will show whether or not the link still works. Delete those TrackBacks that don't. To make this task more manageable, you may want to delete all TrackBacks on posts past a certain age.

There are several services that will help you find dead links on your site for free.

  • Alexa.com's Site Report for Amazon.com associates will crawl your site and return the first 50 dead links it finds. You can make a request for this service once per day.
  • Siteowner's Link Checker will check for bad links on a single page.
  • NetMechanic Link Check can check up to 20 pages at a time.



Spam Links

It amazes me when visiting a prominent blogger's site to find scores of spam comments and TrackBacks residing on old entries. We should know better! Allowing spam comments and TrackBacks to stay on your site increases the search engine page rank of the spammers' sites and encourages them to spam more. To check for and delete spam comments and TrackBacks, click on those sections in the left sidebar of your weblog edit screen and review. If you check the "Email New TrackBacks" and "Email New Comments" checkboxes in your weblog config preferences section, you will be notified whenever your site receives a comment or Trackback and you'll be able to tell immediately if they are spam.


Activity Log

Your Activity Log tells you of recent activity on your weblog - author logins, new entries, searches conducted using the MT search function. The log can quickly get pretty long, and if you have any server space constraints, it's a good idea to clear it out every once in a while. The Activity Log is accessible from your main weblog edit screen, on the right side, under "Shortcuts". Click on the Activity Log link, and then click on the "Reset Activity Log" to clear the activity log information from your database.

activity-log.gif


Validate Your HTML and CSS

Whenever you make significant changes to your templates you should consider checking your main site pages through the W3C Markup Validator. The validator will help you find missing closing tags in your markup. You can also run your stylesheet file through the W3C CSS Validator. See more information about these services in the W3C Validation Service LMT tutorial.


Back-up Your Site

Yes, occasionally things go terribly wrong and people do lose all the contents of their weblog. As this can represent years of work, you really should back up your blog on a regular basis. If you use the My-SQL database (and you should be using this and not Berkeley DB!) backing up is easy with a simple dump command. See the LMT tutorial Backing Up Your Blog. I have dump set up on my server to run once a day. Once a week I copy the dump file to my local hard drive. It is also a good idea to occasionally make back-ups of your image files, as these do not get saved in a MySQL dump, or an MT export.


Delete Unused Templates and Plugins

Check to see if you have index or archive templates in your weblog that you aren't using. If they are default templates, and you aren't using them, you can delete them and if you want in the future to use them, you can go to the Six Apart website and find them there. Review What Do All These Templates Do? to see if you need all those templates.

You should also check to see which of your existing index templates need to have the checkbox "Rebuild the template automatically when rebuilding index templates" checked. Static templates such as the stylesheet CSS template do not need to be rebuilt every time you save a new entry (your index pages get rebuilt when you save new entries.)

Check to see if you have Plugins installed that you are no longer using. Plugins use up server resources, so remove them if you aren't using them.

By the way, Six Apart lists some great tips on how to Speed Up Publishing in Movable Type.


Have other blog maintenance tips? Please let us know in the comments section.

Comments (4)

Arvind [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Sometimes the Activity Log gets too large and often my web browser crashes trying to load all of it. Previously you could reset it via the URL but come MT 3.16 and the introduction of magic tokens this isn't do-able. Hence, the ever helpful Shelley's got a wonderful tutorial to reset your activity log without browsing it.

Ray:

Some good pointers.

Comment spam isn't really an issue if you are using the rel="nofollow" which I see you are using here, probably through the nofollow plugin.

When a link on a site carries this attribute, search engines do not use those links to compute page rank for the pointed to sites.

If you are hosting your site using a service with the popular Cpanel you can look at your Error logs. This shows up all manner of things that are going wrong and its worth dipping into them on a regular basis.

One of the problems I had when redesigning my site last year was that I used a different path structure for my archives. I made changes to my htaccess file to ensure that the old page addresses resolved to their new directories but I knew I had not got them all so by regularly checking the error logs for a couple of weeks I was able to pick up the strays and redirect them.

quack [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Xenu Link Sleuth is my personal favourite link checker. It'll scan your entire website and let you know what's broken and what isn't.

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