by Conor McDonough, Partner, Scribendi Digital Marketing
The dreaded 404 error: scourge of the resourceful searcher and damager of SEO. You don’t often run into a 404 error when visiting the major, forward-facing pages of a website. But if you are a resourceful searcher/researcher who is looking for specific information on a website – the kind of person who can become a fast-closing lead – the chances increase greatly. The more 404 errors your website has, the less Google trusts it and the more likely an educated lead is to pass on your company.
How Do 404 Errors Happen?
Often times, very specific or educational information is included in blog posts. They are the easiest way for a business to put out relevant information without having to build out whole navigation pages to it. Those blog posts usually contain references to industry news or to other pages or blogs on the company website. But those external and internal links have a habit of changing as the blog post ages, creating 404 errors that you may never notice! This is especially common if multiple users are posting to or editing your website. Coherence in the creation of links is key!
How Do I Look for 404 Errors Without Going Through Every Link on My Website?
If your website is a WordPress website, there are plenty of plugins that will scan your entire website for 404 errors and list them for you. It is then up to you to take those links and turn them into 301 redirect links.
If your website is not WordPress there are plenty of online tools available to do a website scan for 404 links, but it requires more work to fix them.
Why 301 Redirect Links?
404 errors hurt your SEO. Google sees them as broken links and if there are enough of them your website will fall from Google’s good graces. But if you find your 404 links and redirect them (point the URL’s to a live page or post on your website) using 301 redirect you’ll be just fine. Google sees 301 redirects as your website self-correcting its errors and, while the links might not go directly to the kind of timely, relevant information Google prefers they won’t ding you for it.
Frequent monitoring of the validity of internal and external links is just one small piece of the overall SEO puzzle, but it is important and cannot be overlooked. Here at Scribendi we have automatic reports set up for all of our websites and are alerted every time a 404 link appears.
If you’re ready to set up the foundational building blocks of SEO on your website, Scribendi is here to help. Give us a call at (339) 244-4222 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a website analysis today!