How do you know what links are pointing to your 404 pages?

Forum White Hat SEO How do you know what links are pointing to your 404 pages?

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    To preserve link juice, how do I know what internal and external links are pointing to 404 pages on my site so that I may change them if I could?


    There are several tools out there that would check your entire site for [broken links]( . This is a manual process. If you are using a CMS chances are there is a plugin that can keep track of broken links.


    Internal links: I’d crawl the site with any SEO crawler. This should give you a ton of info about your pages, but it should also include the HTTP status code (200, 301, 404…) of every link the crawler found on your site. You should be able to extract a list of all links (and their location!) that point to a URL that returns a 404 status code.

    External links: often I’ve found that the best way to find this is to compare a list of the pages I think are on my site (you can use a crawler to create a basic list. Don’t forget to add in any intentionally unlinked pages, like PPC landing pages. Then, compare that to a list of all pages receiving traffic in Google Analytics. Pages in Google Analytics that aren’t in your own list are URLs that probably return a 404 status code. (If you have a small site, you can check them manually, too, to make sure they’re not just redirected.)

    Note that as far as external links are concerned, this won’t tell you immediately where on the web people are coming from, so it may still be hard to ask for the broken links to be fixed. It will tell you which URLs you should probably redirect to an existing page, though!


    Google Chrome Plugin “Check My Links”. It has to be manually done page by page fyi.


    The old search console “Crawl Errors” is what you are looking for. Internal 404s can be found with any site audit tool, Screaming Frog being very popular. The ones that are tougher to find are old backlinks to any pages that have gone away. When I started as in-house dev 2+ years ago, the search console crawl errors showed some 10,000 404’s from 15 years of various versions of our ecommerce site. With regex redirects, I got that down to ~300 errors that were pretty irrelevant. I still miss that report. I have SEMrush backlink reports, but I can see only a fraction of the backlinks to my site where the page is gone. I’m glad I fixed as many links as I did while I had that report. I wouldn’t have known they were there without it.

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