Google Discusses Fixing 404 Errors From Inbound Links

by | Nov 27, 2023 | Digital Marketing, News, SEO

In a Reddit thread, a user inquired about locating and rectifying broken inbound links, to which Google’s John Mueller provided a detailed response. Mueller suggested using the analytics of a website’s 404 page to filter out referrers, thus identifying broken links that receive traffic. Additionally, Mueller advised using server logs to understand which links search engine bots crawl, adding that not all broken links require external tools for detection.

Furthermore, Mueller emphasized that not all 404 errors need immediate attention, as some are normal and fine to exist. He pointed out that the SEO value of reviving a 404 page may be less than the effort put into it, cautioning against fixing every 404 page.

Mueller acknowledged that some 404 errors caused by broken inbound links are worth addressing, while others are not. For instance, he highlighted the issue of external sites linking to incorrect URLs on one’s website, which generates a 404 response and can be easily identified and fixed. Similarly, he mentioned instances where external websites link to pages with changed URLs and without proper redirects, urging website owners to address these issues promptly.

The article also delved into the concept of inbound broken links to existing web pages and the importance of identifying and rectifying such issues. It outlined various methods for identifying these broken links, including utilizing server logs, Google Search Console, and plugins like the Redirection WordPress plugin. Additionally, the article provided guidance for handling broken links on WordPress sites using the Redirection plugin or manually coding an .htaccess rule.

Another crucial aspect covered in the article was the discussion of inbound broken links to removed pages. In cases where old webpages are legitimately removed, the article suggested that displaying a 404 response code is appropriate. It also cautioned against attempting to create new webpages to replace removed ones, noting that the relevance of the inbound link would be lost.

Overall, the article offered comprehensive insights into the nuances of identifying and addressing inbound broken links. It emphasized the importance of distinguishing between broken links that require fixing and those that are better left as 404 pages. By doing so, the article provided valuable guidance on effectively managing broken inbound links on websites.

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