Google’s John Mueller answered a question about finding broken links that 404 and if there is SEO value in working on bringing those links back to life. John ended his response by saying on Reddit, “The SEO “value” of bringing a 404 back is probably less than the work you put into it.”
John is saying that while there may be some SEO value in getting those links back by finding the 404 page and restoring it, the effort you put into doing so, is likely not worth it. Meaning, there is very little value in bringing to life most of those 404 pages just for the links.
A while back, John Mueller also said that old 404ed links that are redirected over some time may stop passing value. He said, “I’d say for for a certain while you can still go back and add a redirect for those individual links that you see like that. I don’t know if after two years it would make a big difference unless there are really strong links that are going to your site and kind of being lost like that.”
We also know that a link that points to a 404ed page does not count. We know that links pointing to pages that do not exist, that 404 or some soft 404, are links that are not counted by Google.
The question on Reddit was:
Finding broken links for free: Is it possible to locate broken links in a similar manner to identifying expired domain names?
This is John Mueller’s full response:
If you want to see which links to your website are broken & “relevant”, you can look at the analytics of your 404 page and check the referrers there, filtering out your domain. This brings up those which actually get traffic, which is probably a good proxy. If you have access to your server logs, you could get it in a bit more detail + see which ones search engine bots crawl. It’s a bit of technical work, but no external tools needed, and likely a better estimation of what’s useful to fix/redirect. Keep in mind that you don’t have to fix 404 pages, having thigns go away is normal & fine. The SEO “value” of bringing a 404 back is probably less than the work you put into it.
Do any of you work on finding 404ed pages so you can bring back to life those links pointing to them?
Forum discussion at Reddit.