Known bug: "You might also like" links going to NULL pages

August 11 2014 | arielmstallings

outbrain busted

For the past couple weeks, we've been dealing with a persistent issue with the "You might also like" related links served up at the ends of posts on all Offbeat Empire blogs. For some people, some of the time, when you click the links there, you get taken to a 404 error page that has "NULL" in the title.

For example, when you click on a related post linking to http://offbeatbride.com/2014/07/dont-ignore-this-post-wedding-advice, you might be taken to http://offbeatbride.com/2014/07/null&version=174554 instead. While I've noticed some weird "null" error pages in my analytics for a while, it's gotten way, WAY worse lately:

outbrain null

I've reported the issue to Outbrain, the service the provides all those links. They're still trying to figure out what's going on, so there's no fix yet on the horizon… if it doesn't get resolved soon, I'll consider switching the service off, because it's being pretty irritating for readers (and me). The Empire does make some money from Outbrain clicks, but it may not be enough to justify the hassle if they can't get this fixed soon.

Thanks for your patience, y'all!


UPDATE 8/13:
We may have a fix in place. If you've been hitting this bug, clear your cache and try again. If you hit an error, let me know:

  • What post you were viewing
  • What link you were clicking
  • Where it was supposed to go
  • Where it went instead

Thanks, y'all!

    • The Empire only gets paid for clicks to off-site links — in other words, we never make money off of internal links to our own posts, but if you click through to read, say, "Victorian Engagement Rings for the Non-Traditional Bride" on Brilliant Earth's blog, we'll get a few cents.

      • So the Outbrain clicks only make money if they go to an external site but not Outbrain clicks to internal links, correct? (Just verifying). Have the external links been ending up with a "null" error as well?

        Also, even though I'm already married, I would love to drool over some Victorian Engagement Rings for the Non-Traditional Bride!

        • Correct: Outbrain does not pay us for clicks to our own website. With internal links, the increased pageviews are the reward — a really important reward since (thanks to mobile views) pages/session has dropped in half since 2011.

          The external Outbrain links do not serve up null errors, as far as I know. Revenue has not fallen.

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