This is a method I was testing with one of my websites since last few months and successfully restored some backlinks that were wasting due to broken links. And, believe me, I can already see hike in SERP for some long tail keywords that I am not targeting.
If you have a huge website with tons of pages, there are possibilities that You also have large number broken links with indexed backlinks to them. What I will describe here is to track the 404 error pages and redirect them to the existing pages to retain the backlinks.
Is this a Blackhat SEO Method?
You might think that it is a blackhat seo method. To assure you, this trick has been tested and mentioned by Matt Cutts in his blogpost. This is no way a blackhat trick and also not mandatory. Do not do it if you still have any short of doubt.
First, you need to track your 404 error pages. I would recommend you to use Google Webmaster Tools to see which pages are tagged with 404 Not Found. In Google Webmaster Tools, you can also see how many pages have linked to that 404 Not Found page. This is where our trick begins.
- Go to Dashboard of the site in Google Webmaster Tools. Then Click on Site Configurations > Crawl Errors > Not Found. Here you can see which pages in your site Google didn’t find while crawling your site and the indexed backlinks to them. Copy the URL.
- Now, find the most suitable and existing page on your site where you can redirect it. Say, if the 404 URL is , you should redirect it to an existing page like .
- Now, use the .htaccess file which is located at the document root of your domain to redirect the 404 url to that existing url. You can check the .htaccess redirection guide. Or, just add the code below to your existing .htaccess file.
- 1Redriect 301 domain.com/shoes/ domain.com/category/shoes
Repeat the process for all the “Not Found” URLs in the Google Webmaster Tools. Once finished, you should give Google some time to validate the 301 redirects and transfer the link juice to the existing pages. If the pages are still there at “Not Found” in Google Webmaster Tools after a month, check your redirections in .htaccess file.