Your website’s links represent fundamental building blocks of your online presence and visibility. Both routing traffic in from outside, as well as internally within your site, a non-functional link can be extremely harmful to one’s business—Just as one who seeks out a physical address only to find an empty lot, so a 404 file-not-found page is likely to turn away someone who had the intention of engaging with your web site. By accessing your website through Webmaster tools and Google Analytics, one can identify and begin to resolve such errors.
Firstly, by accessing one’s site through Webmaster Tools (in this case Astral Web), one can see the links that google has been unable to find as it crawls the web. Below, one can see that this information is accessed by selecting Crawl > Crawl Errors and entering 404 in the drop-down box above and to the right of the list of errors.
This is your first list of non-functional links that may need to be addressed.
Google Analytics offers a more detailed, customizable display of link errors. Following the steps outlined below, one is able to access a list of 404 errors that have been encountered through external links, which can be particularly undesirable to a websites effective presence.
Once in Analytics, select Behaviors > Site Content > Landing Pages:
This results in a list of landing pages for your website, which are ranked by frequency. Secondly, you’ll want to add a Secondary Dimension defined by Page Title:
Once this is done, click on the advanced search option:
Enter 404 to delineate your search to instances of 404 errors:
At this point you should be left with a comprehensive list of all 404 errors that have occurred within your domain, appearing something like this:
By identifying these non-functioning external links, you have the opportunity to resolve potentially significant numbers of 404s that each represent someone’s intention to access your site’s services or content. Addressing such issues has equally significant potential to affect your site positively. Utilizing Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics, you can maintain your link functionality, taking a significant step in the maintenance of an effective web presence.