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Here’s a quick link building (or link reclamation) tip for you.  Google Webmaster Tools has really grown.  Yeah, there’s still some squirrely reporting (like why my impression count is exactly the same every day), but the Crawl Errors function is vital for anyone who adds and removes a lot of pages or has switched sites and URLs.

A client of mine recently got a new website.  More than a reskin, 98% of the URLs had changed (for the better).  With Screaming Frog and some insight on what the URLs were going to be, I was able to whip together a good .htaccess file to use.

The new site has been live for a few months now, and despite thinking I had the 404 issues pretty covered, I logged into the Crawl Errors tool in Google Webmaster Tools.

I thought I had it under control.  Clearly not.  But Google makes it easier than ever to fix.  Click the Not Found button, and take a look at the list of 404’s it gives you.

Ideally, you can clean these up with a couple of sweeping server redirects.  In my case, I simply forgot to remove an old XML sitemap.  But the beautiful thing is that each resulting page can be clicked for more information:

That’s a pretty sweet link I was missing out on.  I made this my priority.  You might find some nuggets too with a fairly small amount of digging.

Bill Sebald
Bill Sebald
Follow me on Twitter - @billsebald

I've been doing SEO since 1996. Blogger, speaker, and teacher at Philadelphia University. I started Greenlane in 2005 to help clients leverage search marketing to hit business goals. I love this stuff.

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6 responses to “Using Google Search Console Tools To Clean Up Your (404) Act

  1. Bill:

    Thanks for the reminder about this hidden gem. I checked the stats for a site I recently purchased after reading this post and sure enough there were well over a dozen 404’s I wasn’t even aware of. I didn’t find any links from though:)

    Travis Van Slooten

    P.S. I’m glad I’m not the only one who edits his comments for grammar. There is nothing more annoying than reading comments on blogs that are filled with spelling and grammar errors!

  2. It’s definitely much friendlier than it used to be. I would still like errors to be somehow permanently logged rather than disappearing on being marked as fixed. Sometimes, it’s hard to trace why there are all these individual weird looking rewrites everywhere. Just me I suppose.

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