Using 404 Pages for Link Juice

Using 404 Pages for Link Juice

Matt Cutts recently put out a blog post discussing 404 pages and how they could be used as effective inbound links by creating link juice to your website. Since that blog post went out, several conversations have surfaced on the Web talking about this concept and whether it really can work in favor of SEO professionals.
In summary, the post talks about a new feature that Google offers that converts already existing links to your site to even higher quality links, and it does so through those 404 pages that most web searchers have come to detest. Typically, when a web searcher gets a 404 page, it’s telling them that the page they’re looking for is not found. For searchers, it’s an annoyance; for website owners, its lost traffic. For SEO professionals who depend on those links, it’s lost link juice.

Now, Google’s webmaster portal allows website owners to see who is linking to these 404 pages by registering your website and using the diagnostic tools provided. And it’s free.

The news of this new site link strengthening tool has sent airwaves through the SEO world. Why? Because this new tool equates to free links. Not only free, but it’s an ethical SEO practice. Search Engine Watch newsletter continued to follow the story and talk more about what the industry was saying. Running this report will provide website owners and SEO professionals with a quick and effective way to improve a site’s overall impact on search results. 404 pages don’t pass any authority so they have to be cleaned up by either contacting the sites and getting them to change the links to the right pages, or doing 301 redirects. Some SEOs were already manually doing these 404 searches, but now Google is providing a way to do it for them. The new standard for site analysis reports should include this tool, no question.

There are a couple caveats to this new tool. First, the site must have a Google webmaster account and it takes a good amount of time to reclaim each link. However, SEO professionals interested in quality, ethical link building practices would be well-served to check out Google’s new webmaster portal.

[tags] google webmaster tools, 404 pages, link juice, matt cutts, search engine watch, 301 redirects [/tags]