It has been brought to my attention there are some common dead links on some of the sites. The most common one is the contact the webmaster link and the other that is missing on some sites is the contact us link. Both of these links are found in the footer of the websites on all pages at the bottom right corner. I think almost everyone does have the Contact Us link working, but I thought when I checked a while back some were not. I know a ton of sites, I dare to say all of them, have broken webmaster links.
This most likely stemmed from the way these were initially setup in the first place. I’ll explain where these two links are pointing to and how to fix them.
How to Tell Where The Links Point
If you hover over either link in most browsers (my example uses Firefox) you should see a tiny bit of text show up in the bottom left corner of your browser that shows the link location. You can see where these two links point to in the screen shots below:
So the first link ends in a / which means it is looking for an index.cfm file in the contact directory. The Webmaster link is looking for a webmaster.cfm file in the contact directory. If you click on one of them and it doesn’t exist then you need to make the one that does not exist.
You can use this hover technique to check where links point on any link that exists. It’s a bit faster than actually clicking on the links. I do this to check and make sure none of my links point to rcde.usu.edu/distance.usu.edu sometimes.
Create The Missing Link
This part is easy as pie and holds true if you find yourself needing to make any hard coded links. When I say hard coded in this case, I mean you can’t physically alter where those links point because they are coded in the back-end portion of our CMS. So they will always point to those locations.
If Contact Us is Missing
- Log into the CMS and be on any page (doesn’t matter which one) with editable content
- Write the word index
- Select it
- Hit the link button to add a new link
- Select New Page and change the page title to be index
- Select the site section to be contact
- Click “Add Pending Page”
Now simply delete the text you just made or simply don’t save the page you were editing. If you click on the “Contact Us” page in the footer it should now take you to your newly created page. The page title may or may not be already set to “Contact Us”, but if it’s not you can change it to that or something else. Now all you need to do is create the content for this page, hit save, and you are good to go. I would make sure that a contact form exists on this page that will email either you or someone that can help students who want to contact someone for any reason.
What Did I Just Do?
Our CMS creates page names based on the link text you used when creating the page. So when you used index as the link text when creating the new page, the CMS simply made an index.cfm file in the site section you chose. Warning: I am not sure if the CMS will allow you to overwrite existing index.cfm files. If it does then you can potentially overwrite an index.cfm file in any directory. Your homepage is an index.cfm file in the root directory of your site. This would be a bad thing to overwrite your homepage with a new blank page. Please use caution when creating new pages so you don’t accidentally an existing page as I am not sure if the CMS will allow it.
What if I Already Have a Contact Page?
If you already have a contact page somewhere else on your site, you probably don’t want two. It’s bad practice to have pages with duplicate contact and can confuse search engines. Here is A solution, but not the solution. Use the steps above to create your contact page and then follow one of the three steps below depending on what you want to do.
I want my footer link to point to my existing contact page
On the page you just created first click the html button at the top left of the content editor. You now should be looking at a blank content area. It may or may not have a <br> tag in there. Anyway, just delete everything in the content area because you are going to be redirecting users to a different page. Add the following code in the content area:
<cflocation url=”http://existing/contact/page/path” addtoken=”false”></cflocation>
You would obviously replace the “existing/contact/page/path” with the path to your existing contact page. Then save the page. Please Remember: If you are logged in and go to your contact page, the link will be preceded with rcde.usu.edu/websites/. Remove the rcde.usu.edu/websites/ part. Only include everything from your site root on. So if this was for Salt Lake’s site, I would take everything from saltlake.usu.edu and on.
Your content might end up looking like this:
<cflocation url=”http://saltlake.usu.edu/somefolder/contactus.cfm” addtoken=”false”></cflocation>
What did I just Do?
CFLOCATION is a tag that tells the browser to redirect itself to another URL. This happens as the page loads so the user thinks nothing really happened. This it technically designed for a temporary fix and not the best solution.
I Want to Use the Footer Page, but I Want my Existing Contact Page to Go to the New Page
You have two options here. You can simply remove the existing contact page and update all your links to go to the new contact page. This would require you to know/find where all the existing contact us links are and change their links to point to the new contact us page. Or you can use the method above to redirect your existing contact page to the new contact page. Again, using a redirect is not ideal. The ideal way would be to update all of the existing links to point to the new page and only have a single contact page.
I Want the Footer Link to Go to Some Other Page
Many of the sites already point their contact page to the USU directory page for their campus. This is kind of nice as that page should always be updated with the correct information. I wouldn’t suggest it as it takes users off of your site and pushes them to a different site, but it could be a quick fix if you want to point them somewhere while you get your staff directory page up and running. Simply use the method posted above but change the URL to point to the correct page in the USU directory.
What I Suggest
I suggest the “Contact Us” link go to a page on your site where there is a contact form as well as a link to your staff directory. I would use the CMS to create this staff directory and have the directory page on your site as well. While the USU staff directory is nice, I would think you have the power to update and maintain more accurate information than whoever is maintaining the USU directory. While this does cause a duplication of content which I am against, it does keep people on your site which I think outweighs the duplicate content issue. However these are your sites and you can do with them what you wish. I just don’t want dead links.
What if Webmaster is Missing
I won’t go through all of the steps above, but you essentially want to follow the same steps listed above for creating the contact us link. Instead of using the link text of “index” however you want to use webmaster instead. If you already have a contact the webmaster page somewhere else, follow the same steps listed above for creating a redirect to the correct pages. If you have any questions please let me know and I can help you out, but these links in the footer need to be created.