There are many opportunities to have broken links: error when creating a link, forgetting to modify a link when a URL changes or simply another site making a mistake by making a link to one of our pages. So many broken links which once “repaired” can increase the popularity of our site …

The 301 redirects allowing to forward the popularity from one page to another, we will use it to transfer the popularity of broken links to the appropriate pages of our site.

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1st step: spot broken links…

Meeting on Google Tools for webmaster, if you do not already have an account for your site, this is an opportunity to create one. Then go to Diagnostics> Crawl Errors. Here you will find all the errors encountered by Google: URL blocked by robots.txt, error in the sitemap… The part that interests us here is the following: Not found. Click on not found and you will get a list of URLs returning a 404 error. You also have access to the pages linking to these URLs.

Export this data by clicking on Download this table.

2nd step: determine the pages to which to redirect…

Once you have this Excel file, add a column and indicate in it, for each URL in 404, the correct URL to which to refer and follow the popularity.

3rd step: create 301 redirects…

If you don’t have the technical skills, send this file to the webmaster or developer. If you don’t have a developer on hand, creating 301 redirects via a .htaccess file remains fairly simple.

Open the file to edit it and insert lines like this:
redirect 301 /ancienne-url.htm /nouvelle-url.htm

For more info on creating an .htaccess file, you can read the CommentCaMarche.net tutorial.

Result: effortless backlink gain…

Once the .htaccess file is put online, the broken links will be redirected to the correct URLs of your site and the popularity will be transmitted gradually, as long as the engine takes into account these redirects. If you had a lot of broken links, this can have a significant effect on your popularity.

You just have to go to Google webmaster tools to check your links.

Article inspired by SEOMoz.