The SEO Project

404 Link Reclamation

Joshua HardwickJoshua Hardwick

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” :

broken-link-raven

It looks like a normal, functioning link, right?

But, when you click it, it takes you to this page:

broken-link-page-raven

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:

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:

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:

search-console-site

Select “Crawl errors” from the left-hand menu bar:

crawl-errors-search-console

Scroll down and you’ll see a list of your ‘top 1,000 pages with errors”:

page-errors

Most of the pages on this list will be 404 errors.

Click on an error to check the details:

404-error-google-search-console

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):

search-console-misspelling

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:

simple-301-redirects

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.

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