Find external links pointing to non-200 URLs

1. Use a tool that finds broken links Like ScreamingFrog or Google Analytics.

There are numerous tools online, both free and paid, that can search the web for broken links. If you use ScreamingFrog, add your website’s URL in the search bar at the top and scan your website, then filter your results to show you 301, 302, and 404 errors in your search. 300 status codes are very rare. If you use GA, go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages, and select Page Title as your Primary Dimension. Click on Advanced and set up your filtering to Include > Page Title > Containing > 404 Page. If you use GSC, go to Coverage > Excluded and export the URLs under “Not found (404)” and “Page with redirect”. Click Apply to see your 404 pages listed in the results. Click on it to see the links that are broken.

2. Create a spreadsheet to keep track of the broken links you find.

Make columns for the type of error listed and make notes as you investigate each link. If you use Google Analytics, you can export the report of your broken links into a spreadsheet.

3. Investigate each link.

Your report should have data on how often the broken links are clicked on. Begin with the links that have the most visits. Check to see if the problem is a typo in the URL. Check to see if you deleted the page that it is linking to. If it is, try to come up with an adequate replacement link for it to redirect to. Make notes in your spreadsheet of the cause of the broken links as you go.

4. Create replacement content for deleted URLs.

Make a plan to write new content for broken links to replace the old content. Update old content on broken links to make it more current and relevant. Note in your spreadsheet what content needs changing or updating as you investigate links.

5. Set up a redirect in your management system.

For this example, we will use WordPress. In WordPress, go to Settings. Click on Website Redirect. Enter the URL you want the site to redirect and what you are redirecting it to. Select 301 permanent redirect. Set the status to Enabled, and now those links can start going to the right location. This works for both your typo links and links to pages you have deleted or moved.

6. Contact the site with the broken link.

Use a tool like Google Search Console or Ahrefs to find the website your link is placed on. Send the site an email with the correct information and request that they update it. Also tell them where the old link is in their page and point to its anchor text, if there is any. If the URL no longer exists, you can send them a link to something similar on your site and ask them to change it to that and explain to them why you think the new link is a good replacement. If necessary, send a follow-up email after a few days, however, do not send more than two follow-up emails.