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'Disguised' 400 error in Webmaster Tools - I had to view source

12:52 pm on Jan 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

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This could be important for SEO!

I was researching a 400 error (Bad Request) reported by webmaster tools. The link reported by WMT looked fine! But when I clicked on it, sure enough, I get a 400 error from my server and the link produced by WMT is corrupted.
So repeating; looking at the WMT page gives you no hint at the problem, BUT, when you look at the WMT web page source you discover what could be a significant problem for you, another webmaster, or Googlebot itself. Below the actual code extract examplified (Hmmm a new WebMasterworld Term):

<a class="wmt-external-url" href="http://www.example.com/example-%E2%80%8Blink.htm">http://www.example.com/example-&#8203;link.htm</a>

The link should be:
The WMT reported bad link looks great as well as the link in the status bar when you hover, BUT
The text for the link in the source file is:
And the WMT generated href is:

Which of course my server doesn't like too much. I may be able find the source website in my logs, but I may have to look back for months to do so.

The &#8203 is, I believe, a zero width space probably in somebody's website somewhere, BUT, the gotcha here is:
The link displayed by WMT looks fine!

The moral of the story is; You may want to view source in WMT when investigating problems reported by WMT.
6:54 pm on Jan 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I've seen similar things for some time now.
8:24 pm on Jan 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the heads up!
8:59 pm on Jan 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I have few of these too. In my case these are dynamic URLs that also look fine in WMT and in status bar when hovered, but when you click on them, you get ? & and = encoded to %3F %26 and %3D that is, URL


is requested as:


which gives HTTP 400 Bad Request
3:24 pm on Jan 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Thanks - I had a similar problem earlier so I'll check out the coding behind the link.

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