how to find broken links using google analytics

How to Find Broken Links Using Google Analytics (Step-by-Step)

We all know what broken links can do a website.

It can impact the SEO score of the website adversely and not to mention, drive away leads who try to access your site.

If you haven’t yet rectified or even searched for the broken links in your website, it is high time you start doing it!

That bump in your SEO score that you didn’t know about and that dip the search engine rankings sometime before may be due to the increasing number of broken links of your website.

Instead of leaving it as such, it is vital to find and fix these broken links and redirect them to proper 404 error pages and save the website from getting the SEO score down.

What Qualifies as a 404 Error Page?

There are a few instances that cause a website link to be broken. You need to fix the broken link for:

  • Webpages that have been moved to a new URL
  • Webpages that are deleted altogether from the website
  • Webpages that have their URLs modified

Here is the right way to easily find the 404 errors using Google Analytics.

Finding 404 Errors Due to Internal Links

The internal links are a part of your website and point to another URL within your website. As the website is completely under your control, it is straightforward to find and fix the internal links that are broken with the 404 error pages.

You need to set up a Custom Report on Google Analytics to find these 404 error internal links.

Follow the below-given steps one by one:

  • Open ‘Custom Reports’ on Google Analytics from the Customization option.
  • Next, click on the ‘New Custom Report’ to set up a new condition report to find 404 errors for internal links.
custom report screenshot
  • Type in a title for this error under the ‘General Information’ tab.
custom report title
  • In the next tab ‘Report Content’, chose the Type as Flat Table and add the three Dimensions as Page, Previous Page Path and Page Title. Choose the Metrics as Unique Pageviews.
screenshot of analytics custom report content
  • In the next tab ‘Filter’, exclude the Previous Page Path, which enables displaying the 404 error pages in the report that had a previous page view from the website.
  • Additionally, you may also another filter to identify the 404 error pages from your side. This sets the title of the page as a common reference that will be easily identifiable by you.
  • Save the report now.

When you open it, you will see various columns on the pages that display the pages that caused the 404 error, the false URL from which it was redirected, the unique pageviews and the title you had set.

404 errors using google analytics

Finding 404 Errors Due to External Links

The process of finding the 404 errors from external links that are directed to your website is similar to the previous one.

The external links are the leads from outside your website on which you do not have any controls.

To start with, you need to create a new Custom Report as you did for finding 404 errors for internal links.

  • Under the tab ‘Report Content’, choose Flat Table as the Type.
  • Under the Dimensions, choose Page, Full Referrer and Page Title as the three dimensions.
  • Add the Metric as Unique Pageview.
  • In the Tab of ‘Filters’, include Previous Page Path, which makes sure that the 404 errors that were not from a page view of your website will be shown on the report; this means the URLs directed from an external website will be displayed.
  • Next, include an additional filter to add a Page Title to help in identifying it.
  • Save the report.

When you open the report now, you can see columns that display the URL that was the reason for the 404 error and the referrer, which is the website from which the URL to your website was redirected, the title of the page you added and the number of unique page views.
Make sure to go through the pages that caused the error and takes steps to fix them or redirect them to proper URLs.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Comment below if you know another method to find broken links on the website.

Author: Ravi Verma

He is a digital marketer and creator of Freaky SEO. He enjoys working with words, numbers and the complexities of search engines and their working. You can connect with him on Linkedin or tweet @ digitalverma. Do you have excellent ideas to share with netizens? Come write for us.

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