Web Problems – Broken Links in Search Engines

April 8, 2009 on 7:28 pm | In ThereArePlaces.com, Uncategorized, web publishing, website link maintenance | Comments Off

Today was one of those heartbreaking days for the staff at ThereArePlaces.

We work hard trying to create a great website with travel information that just might help you take your best trip ever.   As you may know, we support the site based on advertising and advertising requires that we deliver quality content when you come to visit ThereArePlaces.

Yesterday, we started noticing 404 errors in our logs.  404 errors mean that the files that people were expecting to see, were not delivered when they should have been displayed.  We checked our pages and determined that the problems was not with our site, but somewhere else. 

After a numerous hours looking at the problem we discovered that the source of the errors was in the Google Search Index.  When you search Google for something like “best places to visit in Madrid”, it may return a link to our site.  Usually that is just great and we are pleased to see you.  Usually the link from Google works just fine, but for some reason, Google is now publishing links to various of our pages and the links are malformed and breaking our code.

In our case, the way the link is malformed in Google results in the images not displaying and many of the links on the pages not working correctly. 

Although we can see the problems when we click on some of the links  in the Google index, we do not experience the same problems when the pages are linked to from our own site.  In other words, if you started out at ThereArePlaces all of the pages, photos and links will display correctly.  If you enter from Google, some of the links will not work correctly, while other will be OK.

When you arrive at one of these pages via a malformed link in the Google index, the images do not show and most of the links on the page do not work correctly.

The broken links were not supplied by us, as we provide Google and other search engines with a Sitemap.XML file that contains the correct form for all of the pages and images on our site.  What is frustrating is that we cannot tell when another broken link is going to appear in their index or even determine how it got there.  The only response we can make is to either redirect you, or to put a note on the page indicating that if you cannot see the images, click the link we supply to solve the problem.

We apologize for this problem, but when things go wrong with Google there is no immediate or apparent way to resolve the problem.  We appreciate your patience and will work to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

By the way, we are not blaming Google for the broken links, as we are not sure what is causing the malformed links.  As we noted, some of the links in Google are correct, while others are wrong.

For those of you who are gear-heads, the problem in the Google Search Engine is that it sometimes shows a link to our site  with a  “%5C” inserted somewhere in the URL.  The “%5C” is the code for a backslash or   “\”.  The proper form in a URL  is a  forward slash or “/”.  The backslash breaks the URL.

Thanks and our apologies.


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