Broken inbound links are bad for your website's user experience and hurt your SEO performance. However, it's almost impossible to avoid links getting broken. You may delete pages, restructure your site, or change your URLs. Other websites may still link to your old URLs, and you may not be aware of that.
Thankfully, there's an easy fix for that!
While you cannot completely avoid broken links, Google Analytics 4 can help you find and fix broken links.
In this guide, I’ll show you how you can create a report to find broken links. This trick has helped me find and fix many silly mistakes, so I’m sure it can do the same for you!
We’re going to use Google Analytics’ Exploration reporting features to find out which links to our website result in a 404 page.
There are two prerequisites before we can use Google Analytics to fix links:
- You need access to the Analytics account.
- Your 404 pages should have a distinct, recognizable title. Something like “Page not found” will do.
Got that sorted? Let's rock 'n' roll!
Once you log into your GA4 property, go to the Explore icon and click on the "Blank" thumbnail to start a fresh report:
Then, start setting up the Dimensions you need to see 404s:
- Page title
- Page path + query string
Click to Import both.
Next, it's time to set up your Metrics. Add and import the Sessions metric.
Then, drag and drop your Page title and Page path + query string Dimensions into the Rows box.
Drag your Sessions metric into the Values box.
Then, drag and drop your Page title dimension into the Filters box.
Choose the "Contains" operator and include the titles you use for your 404 pages. This will allow you to only find 404 pages, instead of finding all the pages, so your report will contain the specific pages with broken links:
Save the report, and presto! You'll be able to quickly check up on your broken links whenever you want to.
That's easy! Enter a nonsensical URL following your domain, e.g., siteguru.co/asdjgok, and see which types of phrases pop up.
In my case, it's "Page not found." Then, I used it in my report after the "contains" operator.
If you're not seeing any broken links, make sure you've entered the exact page title in the Filter field.
We have now found all pages that get linked to from other websites, but result in a 404 page. There are a few ways to fix that:
- Ask the webmaster of the website that links to the erroneous page to update the link. It would be great if they could do that, but it's time-consuming, so there are no guarantees. Alternatively, you could...
- Create a 301 - permanently moved redirect. This takes your visitors to the correct URL. As a bonus, Google and other search engines will realize that the page has moved, and will attribute the SEO value of that link to the new page. And that’s exactly what we want!
After you’ve set up those redirects, you should see a steady decrease of 404 entrances in the report. Review the report on a regular basis to track your progress!
Yes! You could simply use SiteGuru.
Every week, when SiteGuru runs a complete audit of your website, it'll flag any pages with broken links, so you can fix them. No need to set up custom reports - it'll all be listed out for you!
Plus, you'll get an actionable SEO to-do list with a roadmap for achieving your SEO goals.