Google Crawl Errors - How to fix all of them at once?

Hello everyone!

I am a bit of a beginner in the realm of website maintenance but am taking over in the interim of a coworker being let go.

I logged into our Google Webmaster tools and saw that we have 20,000 Crawl Errors.

I have verified that these errors have been fixed by writing manual rules in the .htaccess, but of course, Google Webmaster Tools is still showing them and my boss is now very nervous.

Here are my questions if you don't mind:

1. Is there a way to mark all of these as fixed instead of 1000 at a time every 2 - 4 days?

2. Are these harmful if the site itself and the links are fixed, but Google Webmaster crawl errors simply hasn't updated?

Any insight on this would be greatly appreciated - thank you for your time and have a wonderful day!

Jane
AYPJaneAsked:
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
The point of showing crawl errors is not to penalize you but to show you so you can fix them and improve the crawling of your site.  The errors won't be updated until the next time Google crawls your site.  Some errors can't be fixed if they are links from someone else's site to non-existent content on your site.  All the errors on my own site were from outdated links on other sites.
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AYPJaneAuthor Commented:
Hi Dave,

Thank you for shedding some light on the situation. Is there a way to force Google to crawl the entire site again so these errors will disappear?

Would also appreciate any other answers as well clarifying the situation - my boss is extremely concerned.
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
Nobody has ever found a way to force Google to do anything.  

Be careful about what you fix in 'htaccess'.  You don't want to add so many rules that it slows down access to your site.

Bad links from other sites may continue to show up.  They are not under your control and you can't fix them.  The most common thing to do is to use a custom 404 page that will redirect them to your home page.
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AYPJaneAuthor Commented:
Hi again Dave,

Just to clarify, these errors are not from other sites, they are internal errors from when we hired a designer to update our page.

We are a directory and we had our URL structure a certain way for 10 years, and hired a designer to update our site which unfortunately led to us getting many, many (30,000) crawl errors because the 301 redirects were not done correctly.

In this instance do you still recommend a custom 404 page as the best solution?
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
Putting 30,000 redirects in your 'htaccess' will noticeably slow your site down because Apache must go thru all those rules Every time a page is requested.  I don't know of an easy way to fix that problem.  One possibility is to recreate all the old pages with 'META refresh' redirects.  Do any of the new pages have the same file name as the old pages?
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AYPJaneAuthor Commented:
Just to clarify, there are not 30,000 redirects but rather 30 php "rules" that apply to the majority if the URL structures.

None of the new pages have the same name as the old pages - to give you an example, the old structure would be something like site.com/cat07/id5/87/394 to get to a listing, and the new structure is site.com/firstname-lastname to get to a listing.
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
If everything goes thru "site.com/index.php", why can't you have it sort it all out and not use 'htaccess'?  Then there won't be any crawl errors because of URLs.
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AYPJaneAuthor Commented:
Hi Dave - afraid you've lost me! That sounds like a promising solution but I'm not sure what you mean exactly. I am not a web person - would you mind elaborating or linking to a few explanatory websites? Thank you for your help so far!
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
"I am not a web person"   That is not a good sign.  I have to suggest that you hire a Good programmer this time to fix this.  I can't tell you enough about PHP in the next 3 months or a year for you to fix this.
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AYPJaneAuthor Commented:
Sure, thank you for the advice. Do you recommend a PHP programmer specifically?
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
No, that would not be appropriate here.  You should get some recommendations in your area.  Make sure they understand the problem.
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AYPJaneAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all of your help!

Your recommendations haven't fallen on deaf ears - when I said that I wasn't a "web" person, I mean that I am not a web developer, but I am in computer repair and A+ certified (not anywhere up to your level, but able to understand basic technical terms) so please feel free to expound.

I'm not sure what you mean by getting recommendations in my area - could you be more specific if you don't mind?

I am at the mercy of experts-exchange and could really use a general direction of where to go if the answer is more complex.

Happy to award you the points - thanks again for all of your help!
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
There are PHP programmers virtually everywhere, I meant in your geographical area so they could come over and see what needs to be done.  But in your current situation, you need a pretty good one because fixing things can be much harder than making the mess in the first place.  If you and your boss are making money from your site, it must be worth something to have it work right.
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AYPJaneAuthor Commented:
Great!
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