SEO Bootcamp Day 9 – Clean Up Your 404 Errors

On the 9th day of boot camp, my marketing expert told me:  CLEAN UP YOUR 404 ERRORS

In Internet speak, a 404 is a “page not found” error. It’s the disheartening (or enraging) message searchers get when the search result they clicked on really doesn’t go anywhere. As you can imagine, these hurt both your ranking potential and goodwill with your human users…so you want to eliminate them.

To eliminate 404s, you first have to find them. And that’s actually pretty easy with Google Webmaster Tools/Search Console.

To log into Search Console, you have to have a Google account. If you have Google Analytics embedded on your site, then you can use the same login credentials. Once you’re in Search Console, navigate to the “Crawl” tab and select “Crawl Errors”. This will show you how many 404 errors there are and help you find them.

Once you find the 404s, you need to fix them. Most of the time, 404s happen because a page or blog got moved (i.e., the URL slug changed) and the redirect wasn’t done properly (or at all). That’s an easy fix. When you login to your website, assign a new URL that you want users to be redirected to when they click on the URL that is currently taking them to the 404 error page.

There may be times when 404s aren’t avoidable or are just hard to find. The next best option is to customize your 404-error page. If you can at least make users laugh about their dead-end (like these clever designers) and help them restart their search, then the momentary inconvenience may be forgiven without bouncing.

If you’ve got broken links all over the place, call in professional help. Contact