ZOMDir > Blog

Thursday 1 April 2021

ZOMDir's Page inspector to the rescue

Recently I launched ZOMDir's Page inspector. This tool gives insight in the structure and the 'hidden' content of any web page.

When I tested it on the many subdomains of ZOMDir, I discovered that there was room for improvement in the JSON-LD code used.

It was a small change in de code, hence I updated, by hand, the JSON-LD code and without any checks I published the code. 

Oops ... a few days later Google mailed me ...

Unparsable structured data issues detected on https://rustyresults.zomdir.com/

To the owner of https://rustyresults.zomdir.com/:

Search Console has identified that your site is affected by 1 Unparsable structured data issues:

Top Errors

Errors can prevent your page or feature from appearing in Search results. The following errors were found on your site:

We recommend that you fix these issues when possible to enable the best experience and coverage in Google Search.

So I checked the code with ZOMDir's Page inspector and indeed there was an error. However the error given was much more detailed. 

ZOMDir's Page inspector stated that there was an 

Unexpected token / in JSON at position 554 

and showed the JSON code. 

Handy. In a few seconds the bug was fixed and checked :-)   


Wednesday 13 January 2021

CSS Secrets

Some CSS code is so amazingly useful, I wonder why not every site uses it.

For example word-wrap:break-word; is useful to prevent horizontal scrollbars.

Monday 11 January 2021

How important is the technical quality of a website?

January 11, 2021 I started a project to test the importance of the technical quality of a website. With Mobile SEO factors that matters I have created a technical almost perfect website regarding mobile SEO.

This website doesn't rank in Google at this moment because it is brand new.

In this blog, I track the position of 'Mobile SEO factors that matters' in Google search results over time when you search for 'Mobile SEO'.

So I'd say ... Stay tuned.

2021 March 29. Updated the web page. The fieldset / legend structure used before is replaced by a classical header / paragraph structure.

2021 March 29. "Mobile SEO factors that matters" is not found at the first ten pages of Google.

2021 March 17. Google mails me "Google systems confirm that on Mar 15, 2021 we started collecting Google Search impressions for your website in Search Console. This means that pages from your website are now appearing in Google search results for some queries."

2021 January 26. I got a redirect error from this blog for "Mobile SEO factors that matters". It's to soon to get results and indeed. The site is not found.

2021 January 13. "Mobile SEO factors that matters" is not in Google's index, so I requested indexing. The url is now in the priority crawl queue.

BLaaG for Blogger

Recently I finally had time to update and maintain ZOMDir.com and all related subdomains. 

That included find and correct broken and redirected links at this blog. 

However I learned that it is hard to find the broken links at a Blogger blog. There are to much false positives. Hence I decided to create a variant of the broken link checker Broken Links at a Glance optimalized for blogger blogs. 

The result is BLaaG for Blogger.

Please let me know what you think of this broken link checker.

Thanks, and best regards,

Monday 30 July 2018

Linking out isn't about risk. It's about uncertainty.

Recently I wrote that you should check redirected links.

In The Ambler Warning from Robert Ludlum it is explained exactly why this is important.

From the previous blog, you might get the idea that it is an acceptable risk that one percent of the removed links, link out to hacked sites.

However Caston -my favorite character in The Ambler Warning- explains the difference between risk and uncertainty. Let me quote Caston.
'This isn't about risk. That's what people like you never understand. It's about uncertainty. You think you can assign a probability metric to future events like this. For technical reasons we do that all the time. But it's bullshit - nothing more than a convention, an accounting conceit. Risk suggests measurable probability. Uncertainty is when likelihood of future events is simple incalculable. Uncertainty is when you don't even know what you don't know. Uncertainty is humility in the presence of ignorance.'
Because I don't know how sites get hacked, how it will be done in the future -Will the hackers use artificial intelligence?-, -Are hacking instructions for sale?- I realise that the percentage of 1% in the previous link is indeed bullshit.

However the advice to check redirected links is still valid, although it was based on risk. I think the advice should be based on uncertainty.

Again, good luck with checking and repairing your broken and redirected links.

ZOMDir.com is a dynamic directory and a wiki
Everyone is able to add a link in 10 seconds
To learn more view this Slideshare presentation

Monday 23 July 2018

Why you should check redirected links (and 5 facts regarding broken links)

Everyone will understand that broken external links will lower the user experience.

Not everyone will know that the percentage of broken links at your website is an indication for search engines how often you check for broken links. 

A lot of broken links? Poor maintenance!

The halftime of an external link is two year. Hence the number of broken links indicates what was the last time you checked and repaired broken links.

Repairing broken links at a regular base is the difference between a neglected site and a smooth website.

Redirected links are dangerous

Almost everyone thinks that redirected links won't do any serious harm. Believe me that is a huge mistake. Redirected links are dangerous.

Recently I analyzed the reason why links are automatically removed from ZOMDir.com (you will find the numbers below).

One of the main findings is that one percent of the removed links, link out to hacked sites

How to find links to hacked sites?

Almost the only way to discover links to hacked sites, is by following the redirected link. When you see an online shoe store where you expected information of a fitness center, you know the site is hacked. 

Of course there are a lot of redirected links. A lot of websites switch from http to https these days. Make live easier for yourself and link to the redirected site instead of the original site. Otherwise you have to check every redirected site again and again when you check and repair broken links.

Other findings

1. Half of the broken and redirected links could be fixed. That is the target website is still working fine, although the website has been rebuild. Depending on the quality of the rebuilding team you are redirected, get a neat 404 error or a brute server error; 

2. Ten percent of the broken links are due to programming errors. This vary from very slow loading webpages, to pages without any content, to incorrect database connections. So always check your entire site with a broken link checker when someone has changed something at your site;

3. Another ten percent of broken links are due to the classic 404 page not found error. Most of the time these error indicates that the website was rebuild, and the rebuilding team didn't redirect the old webpage; 

4. When a site owner gives up a domain name, around 25% of these old domains are parked by a domain broker;

5. 30% of the removed links are removed due to redirections. Nearly all redirected webpages redirect to a secure site.

Raw research results

Here are the raw results of my research.

Error codes broken links

ZOMDir has an inbuild linkchecker (similar to "Broken Links at a Glance") and ZOMDir keeps track when and why a link is removed.

I analyzed the last 5000 removed links. These links where removed from July 30, 2016 till July 16, 2018.  

On average every day 7 links are removed at ZOMDir.com.

Manual removed links

These links are removed by hand. Probably because these links were added to an inappropriate category.

Manual        408     8%

Server side errors

Error 500    2361    47%
Error 503     169     3%
Error 502      10     0%
Error 504       1     0%


Error 301    1027    21%
Error 302     374     7%
Error 303      25     1%

Client side errors

Error 404     479    10%
Error 400      30     1%
Error 401      30     1%
Error 402      20     0%
Error 403      18     0%
Error 410      16     0%

Security errors

When ZOMDir checks broken links,  there is also a check if the page linked to is still safe to visit. When that's not the case you will get a 604 error.

Error 604      32     1%

Manual checked links

By hand the latest 564 removed links where checked. The formal error codes aren't that relevant now. I want to know indepth why a link was removed. Here are the findings:

Server not found          149  26%
Temporary error           110  20%
Redirected                101  18%
Page not found             76  13%
Domainparking              45   8% 
Programming error          32   6% 
Slow website (no response) 19   3% 
Stop of freehosting        15   3%
Site in maintenance mode   10   2% 
Hacked                      7   1%

Thanks, for your attention, happy linking and please check and repair your links at a regular base.

ZOMDir.com is a dynamic directory and a wiki
Everyone is able to add a link in 10 seconds
To learn more view this Slideshare presentation

Wednesday 22 November 2017

How often should I check for broken links?

How often you should check broken links depends on the percentage of broken links which is acceptable for you. 

The lower the percentage broken links you allow, the more frequent you should check and repair broken links.

With the tool Maintenance Frequency at a Glance you are able to find out how often you should check for broken links.

This tool is based on research regarding the half time of broken links in a copy of the former Yahoo! directory.

Some findings are:

  • When 3% broken links is acceptable, you should check your site every 1 month.
  • When you check your site every 3 months, you might expect 8% broken links.
  • When you check your site every 6 months, you might expect 16% broken links.
  • When you check your site every year, you might expect 29% broken links.
  • When you check your site every 2 year, you might expect 50% broken links.
I think that you should check for broken links at least every 3 months although I often advice to check your site every month for broken links.

For relative small sites I advice Broken Links at a Glance. For larger sites I advice Xenu's Link Sleuth.

Happy broken link hunting,

ZOMDir.com is a dynamic directory and a wiki
Everyone is able to add a link in 10 seconds
To learn more view this Slideshare presentation