How to Identify and Fix 404s

Chances are, you’ve come across a broken page. Some companies play it off with a page of puppies, while others state the combination of numbers “404”.

A 404 is essentially an error message, indicating that the server cannot find the page being requested. In other words, what you are looking for simply isn’t there. Ideally, your site does not have any 404s, but if it does, don’t worry! We’ll go over how to find 404s and more importantly, how to fix them.

Finding 404s

Embarrassing stumbling upon them

The most unfortunate way to find a 404 is having a customer point it out to you, as experienced by Mockingbird’s president and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Not only is this unprofessional, but it dampens what would have otherwise been a positive experience by the customer. Conrad then goes into depth on how to monitor 404s through Google Search Console so be sure to check out that method as well.

Evaluating Ahrefs Backlinks

One paid tool you can use is Ahrefs, an SEO toolkit that helps monitor various aspects of your site. Learn how to get the most out of Ahrefs and the benefits it can can provide for your website. For our purpose, we’re going to focus on backlinks. Once you log into Ahrefs, you’ll want to click on “Broken” under “Backlinks,” which will bring up (you guessed it) your broken backlinks. Hopefully, you won’t have too many, but we will go into how to handle these 404s below.

broken backlinks ahrefs

Running a Screaming Frog Crawl

Another paid tool available is Screaming Frog, an SEO analyzer that scans your site. The nice thing about this tool is that it visually analyzes your site, showing you what percentage of links on your site are 404s. After running the crawl, you’ll want to head to the “Response Codes” tab and highlight all the addresses shown. Then, click “Outlinks” on the bottom half of the screen.

You can export this report for a better view, but the most important columns to pay attention to are “From”, “To” and “Anchor Text”. The “From” column identifies which page the 404 is living on, while the “Anchor Text” is the word or phrase that is linking to the 404.

seo analyzer

Handling 404s

So now you know what 404s are and the different ways of finding them, the next step is decide what to do with them. I will refer to external sources as websites that is not your own and internal sources as your own website. In addition, you’ll also want to know how to redirect pages.

There are three situations in which a 404 can occur: An external source pointing towards an internal source, an internal source pointing towards another internal source and an internal source pointing towards an external source.

Externally pointing internally

When an external source point to a page on your site, it is known as a backlink. Backlinks influence the overall authority of your site and where your site ranks in Google searches. Therefore, you want to make sure that no broken backlinks exist through a tool like Ahrefs. The best course of action is to redirect the internal broken link to a functioning page with similar content. That way, we keep the authority from the backlink, but lose the 404.

Internally pointing internally

Sometimes a site can have pages pointing towards an internal 404. In this case, we’d use a tool like Screaming Frog to identify the anchor text and broken link. Simply unlink the anchor text and optionally replace the 404 with a working page. You’ll still want to place a redirect for the broken link to a page with similar content or even the homepage if none exist.

Internally pointing externally

The last case in which a 404 exists is most likely the easiest to handle. Your site may point to external links such as social profiles or resources. When those links break, however, you cannot fix them. Instead, the only thing you can control is whether or not your site points to them. If no similar substitutes for the external link can be used to replace it, then simply unlink the anchor text within your website.

Managing 404s

With the web continuously changing URLs and sites constantly growing, monitoring 404s can be a handful. However, an experienced marketing agency knows how to report and fix 404s. Contact Mockingbird Marketing to see how we can help you today.

How to Monitor Your Website

As one of the newest members on Mockingbird’s team, the world of online marketing truly overwhelmed me. The data and graphs can be difficult to decipher and obtaining that information alone can be a handful. But learning how to monitor a website has become a specialty of mine and this a guide to prove it!

Here are 4 checkpoints that I evaluate on a bi-weekly basis to ensure that Mockingbird understands where our client’s website traffic is coming from, how the data shifts over time, and what kind of opportunities for improvement exist.

Explore Google Analytics

Google Analytics holds a wealth of information, but narrowing down to the important things can be mind boggling. After all, what is “important”?

First, set your time frame, which I typically set at two weeks so that any significant changes can be easily identified. In addition to doing so, remember that while this data is useful, it is even more beneficial to compare this data to the past. Luckily, Google Analytics allows you to do just that by simply checking the “Compare To” box.



As pictured above, the blue line represents the most recent data set, while the orange line represents the previous period. These lines display the number of sessions (number of times a user actively engages with the website) on each day. From this graph, there were two significant instances in which our traffic peaked. This data can be cross analyzed with any events, blog releases, etc. so that you can either replicate or generate similar content to consistently attract more traffic.


When a user finally decides to take action, this can be tracked in the “Goals” tab under “Conversions”. Goals are created based on different measures such as form fills, phone calls, or text messages. Keeping track of these metrics can help determine which modes of communication best appeal to your audience.

Analyze Google Search Console

Google Search Console is another helpful tool that analyzes the health of your website. Here you can find how many impressions/clicks your site receives and even what kind of keywords users are using to look up your site. The most important tabs to explore here are Coverage, Mobile Usability, and Security & Manual Actions.


Here you can explore which pages are working properly and those that are not. When a site receives an error, it will be notated here. Errors can range from broken links to unreachable pages, which ultimately drag down your site’s SEO and accessibility, especially from search engines like Google.

Mobile Usability

Many users nowadays use their phone to search for various products and services. Therefore, it is just as important to make sure your site works as smoothly and efficiently on a mobile device as it does on a computer. This section allows you to do so by noting any problems with your site as it appears on a mobile device.

Security & Manual Actions

Should any security hacks/other Google policy or guideline violations occur, it will be listed here. It is imperative to address these issues quickly, otherwise, Google may lower the rank of your website or remove it from the results page entirely.

Evaluate Ahrefs

The importance of backlinks and domain authority plays heavily into your site’s rankings. When a site has many trustworthy sites linking back to it, search engines like Google are more likely to believe that the site is credible and provides helpful information that users are looking for. Ahrefs goes into depth with your site’s backlinks and overall domain health. Get the most out of Ahrefs and even see your competition’s backlinks to obtain that upper hand and higher ranking.

Monitor CallRail

Finally, I’ll take a look at CallRail, a phone call intake monitoring tool that helps determine where users found information about your law firm and how well various campaigns generate leads. Perhaps the most important tool CallRail has to offer is its ability to swap out your real business phone number and provide tracking numbers. From there, CallRail can provide meaningful data that could change the way you handle calls.

How Can I Improve My website?

You have the data but now what? Dedicating the time and effort to strategically develop a marketing plan, effectively execute it, and meticulously interpret the data is virtually impossible. Luckily, you don’t have to. Contact a marketing company that knows what they’re doing and get started today.

Google Screened for Lawyers: What You Need to Know

We sat down with Mockingbird’s Matthew Moore to go over Google’s brand new product, Google Screened.  Matt’s run millions and millions of dollars of Local Service Ads (like Screened) as the lead for Sears home services and brings his experience to the legal world in a 60 minute breakdown of Google Screened. Matt shares his experience here, going over the economics of the model, how it impacts SPAM in local, and what Sears learned in order to be successful.