How Lawyers Can Identify 404 Crawl Errors
Chris Dreyer | November 17, 2014
Every site has 404 error pages and it’s perfectly normal to have some small ratio of them in proportion to the size of your site. Google and other search engines will not penalize you for having pages that cannot be found however you should try and fix any errors to promote a good user experience. If you find that you have a very high ratio of 404’s to pages on your site, you should definitely fix as many as you can.
Finding the 404s
Google’s Webmaster tools interface will show you all of the 404’s that are appearing on your site. Simply log into Webmaster Tools and click on the website that you want to look at errors for.
Click on the Crawl menu item in the left column of your site’s dashboard
Click on “Crawl Errors” in the drop down menu that appears.
In the screen that appears, you’ll see all the site errors that have occurred on your site for the selected data range (default is one month). If your site is new or you just submitted it to Webmaster tools, you may not see any data at all.
You can see if you have any crawl errors on the tabs on the page. You’ll see those in “soft 404” or “not found” tabs in the interface. When you click on a tab, you will see all URLs that have the corresponding errors.
Fixing your 404 Errors
Webmaster tools helps you identify your broken pages but you’ll have to fix them somewhere else. How you do that will depend on why the page is throwing a 404 error. Common reasons include:
+The page was removed or deleted for some reason
+The URL changed
+The page doesn’t exist (and the link leading to that page was misconfigured)
If the page was removed and it wasn’t supposed to be, it could be that is was mistakenly unpublished in a CMS. Try logging into your administrative back end and re-publishing the page.
If your URL has changed, you’ll either need to change it back or redirect the old URL to the new one. You can do that via .htaccess on your server or there are plugins for WordPress that you can use.
If the page doesn’t exist and it was a misconfigured link, Webmaster Tools will show you where the page that has the 404 is linked from. You can then go to that page and check on the link to see what’s up. A lot of times it is a missing character like a quotation mark or a parenthesis.
How do you identify and fix 404 errors on your site? Join in the conversation by commenting below.