Finding and correcting inbound links that go to bad pages on your website just got a lot easier, thanks to Google (and Matt Cutts for bringing it to everyone’s attention).

What do we mean by links that go to “bad pages” on your website? Simply put, when someone links to your site and makes a minor typo in the link (for instance, someone linked to blogs.dirxion.com/contactt), your web server will typically return an HTTP status code of 404, which is a technical way of telling the user that the “page cannot be found” (sound familiar?).

Some people may not care about this, but in all honesty, you should care quite a bit. Why? Well, as you may or may not know, getting people to link to your site is one of the primary factors in getting your website ranked well in the search engines, and since inbound link from other sites are semi-difficult to obtain, you want to make sure that you’re taking advantage of each and every one of them. If another site links to you and accidentally types the link wrong (sending the user to a 404 page), the “link juice” you would have received for that link is no longer valid. In other words, it’s not helping you at all, and on top of that, the person that clicked on the link to go to your site probably lost interest and moved on.

Google saw the need for a tool to help webmasters identify these incorrect inbound links, and depending on how large your website is, you may have quite a few other webmasters out there sending people to non-existent pages on your site, which is costing you potential customers and exposure – not to mention losing out on the boost that a good link would give your search engine optimization efforts.

So, if you understand why having correctly formatted links is important to you site, and you want to check and see if there are any bad links pointing to your site, all you have to do is log into your Google Webmaster Tools account (if you don’t have one, they’re free, and well worth your time to get one), click on “Diagnostics”, then click “Web Crawl”, and from there you can check out the “crawl errors” reporting tool.

Once you’ve ran the report, if you have anyone linking to your site that looks like they may have just typed a letter or two wrong, you can now go to their site, grab their contact information, get in touch with them and explain that you just found out they were linking to you incorrectly, and would they mind fixing it. I guarantee that 99% will fix it, not only because it takes two seconds, but also due to the fact that they don’t want to send their own readers to a bad link that doesn’t take them anywhere. Heck, they’ll probably thank you (even though you’ll quietly be thanking them, as it could be a valuable link to your site).

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