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Making Connections: How to Transform a 404 Into a Link Building Opportunity

Some webmasters linking to your site use the correct URL, so any visitors (including search engine bots) will land properly on a targeted page in your site which will return a 200 OK status (Found). But there are some webmasters that will link to your site using the wrong spelling in the URL. Other things can make a 400 error become common. Some examples of this can be: old pages that have new titles or changed URLs, user typo errors, or previously deleted pages. As a result, users will not properly land on the designated page, and will land instead on the 404 page on your site. So how can you turn these 404 errors into a link building opportunity?

Follow the steps below:

  1. Log in to Google Webmaster Tools.

  2. Go to Crawl errors and examine all “Not found” pages reported by Google.

  3. Some of these “Not found’ pages are links from other domains. To know the origin, click the pages under “Linked From.”

  4. Visit the page of origin that linked to your site, as reported by “Linked from.” Examine the URL. If it is misspelled, do the following:


301 redirect these 404 URLs to the correct URL on your website. You can use .htaccess to do this, just use this syntax:

redirect 301 “/thisisthemispelledurl.php”

.HTACCESS files allow for powerful, fast changes to your server and website. Please be careful about formatting and syntax when making these changes, as even a space character out of order can cause issues. However, done right, this can be a fast and easy fix to misdirected users!

Note: This is not limited to links from other domains; sometimes, you may also commit some spelling errors in your URL in your internal links. You can correct these errors as well. Double check using a server header status and enter those 404 URLs in the tool provided earlier. They should now be 301 redirected to the correct URL. Thus, the link juice will transfer correctly to the intended URL, helping its rankings.

Resources: If you’re using the WordPress platform, take advantage of the AskApache Google 404 plugin for this and other tools.

If this seems like gibberish to you, or you just don’t want to bother with it, you can always call us here at Cal Coast Web Design to optimize your website!