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Microsoft Office Live Small Business web sites

a href links are very ... unique

     
3:24 pm on Sep 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Has anybody had a look at the source in an MS Office Live Small Business web site page? I'm not real familiar with the process/service, but a potential client has asked us to have a look at SEO for them and I'm noticing something quite peculiar about the hrefs in the page. The structure is as follows:
<td class="MSC_PrimaryNavLinkFrame"><a href="&#xA;                  /default.aspx" class="MSC_PrimaryNavLink">Home</a></td>
Has anybody any insight?
7:11 pm on Sept 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member httpwebwitch is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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I've seen these gadozens and gadozens of times. Very often the result of valid, but badly constructed, XSLT.

It happens when people forget that while whitespace is invisible in HTML and XML, it is not invisible within certain XSLT elements. For example, a sloppy XSLT markupsman creating an <a> element might do this:

<a>
[tab]<xsl:attribute name="href">
[tab][tab]http://www.example.com/
[tab]</xsl:attribute>
[tab]anchor text
</a>

("[tab]" spelled out to indicate indentation)
What you'll get are hexadecimized tabs and line breaks in the href attribute.

instead they ought to do this:

<a>
<xsl:attribute name="href">
<xsl:text>http://www.example.com/</xsl:text>
</xsl:attribute>
<xsl:text>anchor text</xsl:text>
</a>

or better yet, this:

<a>
<xsl:attribute name="href"><![CDATA[http://www.example.com/]]></xsl:attribute>
<xsl:text>anchor text</xsl:text>
</a>
7:15 pm on Sept 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I ought to mention that these hrefs will resolve OK; browsers seem to handle them all right, which is why they go unnoticed until someone looks under the hood and says "gyuch!"

I have no evidence that they are an SEO liability, but they certainly aren't ideal, and should be fixed.

7:58 pm on Sept 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

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So is it the MS software that is creating the valid, but badly constructed, XSLT markup?
9:05 pm on Sept 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

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ah... well there I can't comment... I have never built a "MS Office Live Small Business web site page" and I never will for as long as blood flows through my veins, pigs remain earthbound, and hell stays above zero degrees Celsius.