Common causes of Page Not Found errors are:
- site redesigns in which many paths and URLS are no longer used
- changing paths when reorganizing or re-branding content
- deleting pages
Track Page Not Found hits in Google Analytics
The college web team has created a Data Studio Report to help track down broken links for any Properties you have access to in Google Analytics. Simply visit this path: https://datastudio.google.com/open/1kZshnYTdCCrZTP4jbGpUV15WI1qVdHcB and use the drop-down to select your properties.
If you prefer you can filter content in Google Analytics Reports to find referrers and previous pages that land on the Page Not Found or your site:
- In the sidebar menu of the Reporting page select Behavior and beneath that Site Content -> All Pages
- Towards the center of the page, just above the results table, find Primary Dimensions and click Page Title to show titles instead of paths in the table beneath it.
- The table defaults to ten entries. If no Page Not Found entries are found in the first ten results, you can expand the number of table rows in the Show rows drop-down at the bottom right hand corner of the table.
- You can also search Page Not Found in the search box (note if your page title is something different, search for that instead) found at the top right of the table.
- You should now see the paths of all the pages causing the error.
- Click on one of the listed paths.
- One way to find external links to these pages is to add Secondary Dimension “Full Referrer“
- Now a second column will be added, showing external pages where the visitors came from. Send emails to the webmasters of the listed sites to request updates as needed. It’s helpful to provide the correct URL when making the requests.
- To find internal links, change the secondary dimension from Full Referrer to “Previous Page Path”
- The second column will now show the internal page(s) with the broken link.
Make a More Helpful Page Not Found page
Now that you know people are seeing the page you may want to improve it. Check out the Smashing Magazine 101 Course on Crafting 404 Pages and feel free to contact the Web team at firstname.lastname@example.org.