What is a 404 Error? How to Fix them on your Website

Sometimes when you search for a site, an error page will appear with the message ‘page not found’ or ‘404 error’, bad getaway, etc.

When do you see this message how many of you check what that really means?

‘404 error’ is a very common page you can find if the site you are searching for is unavailable.

What is a 404 Error

Do you want to know what it is?

You will get an answer to all your questions related to 404 error pages here. The main points we are going to discuss in this article are

  • What is the 404 error page?
  • How to fix 404 errors in your website?
  • How 404 errors kill your SEO efforts?

Website owners and bloggers are searching for various options to avoid error pages.

When somebody starts blogging, then all these terms will be new to them. They have to spend a lot of time to learn all this.

It is important to eliminate error pages from your website as it affects your website ranking.

To save your website from 404 error pages you can examine your site more frequently. If you found any error page, remove it as soon as possible. This will improve your site quality and make your site active without any dead links.

The popularity of your site relates to its quality. You cannot attract viewers, Google, and advertisers if it is of poor quality and ranking low in search engines.

This article has everything related to 404 error pages. Before moving to any details the basic thing, you need to know about is the actual meaning of 404 error pages.

What is the 404 error page?

This is a very common error you see while browsing the internet. 404 error message is a common standard HTTP code.

It indicates that the client is experiencing some issue currently and cannot be able to communicate with the requested server.

In short, even though the site is active, the specific page within it may not exist, this error message shows up.

This is not a good practice for your website. It will negatively affect your website as the search engine will see it as an indicator of poor quality.

In order to improve your site quality, you need to clean up those errors by removing or replacing that with a different active page. Sometimes websites show 404 error page to show that the address entered is wrong.

Reasons behind the 404 error page:

You will see a 404 -error page if:

  • The searching URL or content is deleted from that page or moved to another page
  • A typo error in searching URL
  • Any problem associated with the server or broken connection
  • The searched domain name does not exist
  • If the requested domain cannot be converted into an IP address

These are some most common reasons behind the 404 error page. In the next section, we are going to discuss its importance and bad effects on SEO.

Why 404 pages are important?

  • 404 error pages may not directly affect SEO. It creates a safety net and prevents visitors from entering your site.

Some site owners redirect this error pages to their homepages or any other links. This may affect your site badly.

  • Another situation is when a user clicks on a link on your page by expecting content and lands on a 404-error page, this may cause the bad experience to users.
  • A 404 page may also affect your backlink gain. Every backlink is valuable to SEO.

But when you lose it due to an error page, your site backlinks may reduce and affect your site rank badly.

How 404 errors kill your SEO?

As per Google, 404 errors are a very common part of the internet. They say that 404 errors are usually preferable.

But when you want to get rid of an error page, you need to make sure to return a 404 or 410 response code.

When somebody searches for a page and get an error message, Google identifies it as a non-existing page and removes it from the search index.

Also, it will reduce your page rank and make your link insignificant.

If there are many such links that point to inactive or insignificant pages on your site, then this leads to an error page.

This will affect your site rank negatively. Good page rank is important to improve your web traffic and thereby you can improve your page popularity.

Page rank also affects domain level and your entire site can suffer from the error page. Visitors will lose the trust in your site if it is fully broken. They won’t come back again if they experience the same problem repetitively.

So, you should redirect it on to important links or homepage to protect your site ranking.

Easy options to identify error page:

As a website owner, it is important to identify 404 error pages on your site. It includes both internal and external errors.

You can easily identify those error pages using free tools available on the internet. Here are some tools you can use to identify 404 error page

Google Search Console:

This is a very useful tool and formerly known as Webmaster’s tool. You can use this tool if you already have a Google account.

It’s Google crawler finds out whether there is any 404 error pages on your site and gives you a detailed report about that.

Also, you can find errors in robots.txt files using this tool. From the statistic report, you will get an idea on how often you should check your site for error pages.

Dead link checker:

This is also a popular tool used to check any dead links on your site.

All you have to do is to enter the URL you need to inspect and start to check. You can find both internal and external error pages using this tool.

Check a particular URL or the whole website and get details of all tracked error pages with status code and URL.

W3C link checker:

W3C is a very good tool but the drawback is that it may take more time to check your entire site.

It only searches individual URL not the whole website. You can operate this by entering the URL you want to search and check it.

The process is the same as Dead link checker. Get a detailed report and repair the site.

Now, you got tools to find if any error pages are there on your website. Next thing you need to know is how to solve the issue if you find any 404 error pages on your website.

Knowing the presence of an error page on your website is very important because if you cannot repair it, your site may get affected. Here are some easy things you can try to avoid 404 error pages

How to fix 404 errors on your website?

You can try the following simple steps to fix your issue

Reload the page:

The reason behind the error could be some simple one. So, the first thing you can try is to refresh the page.

Hit the refresh icon or press Ctrl+F5. After refreshing see the result.

Check your URL for any typo error:

Typo error could happen and it may lead to a 404- error page.

If the person entered the site address may not notice some small errors like forwarding slashes or any extra letters on URL, then first you need to check it and make sure everything spelled correctly.

You can only do this with clean URLs.

Use the site’s search option:

As you all know many websites provide search option on the site, you can try entering a keyword related to that page. Thus, you can find that particular page easily.

Use various search engines:

Other than using a single search engine, you can try using various other search engines to get the result.

Try all directory levels:

While searching something if you cannot find that particular page, then one thing you can do is to search all directory levels you have gone.

For example, the URL you are searching is live.com/directory1/director2/directory3 gives you a 404-error page.

Delete the last directory (live.com/directory 1/directory2) and search whether the desired page linked there.

Like this deletes last directories and search each new page. Even after checking all directories you cannot the find the link you are looking for, then go to next tip.

Delete browser caches and cookies:

If the site is accessible from any other device then you should try after deleting all caches and cookies from your current browser.

The problem could be related to that browser you use. Try this option to see whether it works or not.

Optimize your page:

Optimizing your 404 – error page is the best thing that you can do.

Accept that your site has an error page and do something useful with that page. Design the page as a user-friendly one.

You can add a link to the home page, link to contact page or link to a specific category. This is how you can make your visitors happy. Also, when checking for error page using tools, they won’t take it as a dead link.

301 page:

You can also use 301 redirect pages instead of 404 error pages.

301 is a code that tells the browser that your content is removed from one URL to another. It won’t affect your page ranking also.

Personalize 404 error pages:

This is also a good idea using which you can entertain your viewers. You can convey the actual reason behind the error page using actual HTTP code.

For example, ‘410 Gone’ code represents that the content is no longer available or permanently deleted from that page.

‘302 error’ is a page that indicates the user that your content movement is temporary and will come back soon.

You can also use creative 404 pages to convince page viewer. Make sure that you design a page that matches with your actual website design.

Restore the deleted page:

If you don’t have the time to do all these, you can restore the deleted data to that page. This will resolve the problem of your followers.

Correct the source link:

If you can correct the broken link that shows error page at the source, it may resolve the problem of occurring error page. You can do this only if the source is under your control.

Contact the hosting provider:

This is the final option you can do if any of the above options are not working. You can contact the hosting provider and know the reason behind the error.

Even after doing all of these you cannot solve that issue, then you can leave the issue.

If only one or two pages are showing an error message, then you don’t have to worry about it. It will not affect your whole website. If there are many followers who are genuine they won’t take it as a serious problem.

Don’t leave the issue if it is big. Ongoing monitoring is essential if you want growth. You can do this with the help of various tools available.

Find the error pages and try to fix it. Don’t let this 404 error affect your site negatively. Find it immediately and resolve the problems.

Final Words:

Got an idea about 404 error page?

When it comes to SEO this is a bad thing, but according to Google, this is not a bad page.

If you are running a website and if any error page occurs, then you must repair it for your website’s good future. Don’t let your followers think that you are not maintaining your site properly.

Use all tools and other methods to find out error page and fix it as you can. If you are shifting to any other site, then inform your followers properly. Don’t compromise with your site ranking due to those dead links.

Also, improve your site visibility by avoiding all errors and bad links. Follow them properly and don’t leave a space for dead links on your website.

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