Backlinks to your site sometimes break.
For example, this page links out to a post entitled “Broken link building with Raven’s Link Manager and local directories” :
It looks like a normal, functioning link, right?
But, when you click it, it takes you to this page:
It’s known as a “404” page – it gets returned by the web browser when something goes wrong.
These pages can get returned for any number of reasons, but here are some of the most common:
- The page/post was moved to a different location
- The page/post was deleted
- The site changed domains
- The webmaster linked out to an incorrectly formatted link by mistake (e.g. they might link to googe.com instead of google.com).
Whatever the reason, if this is happening when people click links to your site, you’re losing link juice.
Here’s how to fix it:
- Find pages/posts on your site currently getting 404 errors
- Redirect those pages to the intended location (or homepage)
Google Webmaster Tools is the best place to start when looking for 404 errors.
Go to your Google Webmaster Tools Search Console, then select the site you’re working on:
Select “Crawl errors” from the left-hand menu bar:
Scroll down and you’ll see a list of your ‘top 1,000 pages with errors”:
Most of the pages on this list will be 404 errors.
Click on an error to check the details:
It’s clear that in this case, it’s a 404.
It’s also clear that with this particular error, the reason for the 404 is due to someone linking incorrectly to the page (notice the misspelling of “strategies” in the URL):
Here’s the simple fix:
Go to your Wordpress dashboard (or whichever CMS you’re using) and redirect those pages to the intended source.
You can use the “Simple 301 redirects” plugin to do this in seconds…
Install the plugin, then enter the URL you want to redirect and the intended destination like this:
Click “Save changes” and it’s done.
Now, whenever someone clicks the broken link to your site, they won’t see a 404 error page – instead, your site will automatically redirect them to the right location in milliseconds.
Note: Another alternative is to go to Ahrefs, download all backlinks pointing to your website, run all the URLs through a broken link checker (e.g. Screaming Frog), then fix any pages returning 404s – this may involve contacting the webmaster if he/she has linked to your website incorrectly.