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Out of the many possible errors you can see on your WordPress site, the 404 Not Found error is one of these to eliminate. But that doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating when you or your visitors try to browse your website and keep getting Error 404 Not Found. 😒 That’s the last thing you want first time customers to see from your brand. A 404 error can also be an indication to you that something has changed or moved and you may want to add a 301 redirect for SEO.
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In this post, we will try to help you get your website up and running again by explaining a few things:
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The 404 (Not Found) status code indicates that the resource server could not find a current representation for the specified resource or does not want to report that it exists. Status code 404 does not indicate whether the agent’s absence is temporary or permanent; the 410 (Gone) status code is chosen over the 404 when the primary server knows, perhaps through some adaptive means, that the status may persist.
Every time you or one of your visitors visits your website, your browser sends a request to the web server and receives back data including an HTTP header. The HTTP header contains HTTP status codes that describe what “happened” with the request.
Most of the time the request works perfectly and you never actually see the HTTP status code (
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, your browser usually displays a message with an HTTP status code that indicates a specific problem.
Like other error messages (Error 500, Error 502, Error 503, Error 504, etc.), the Error 404 Not Found message is the result of this process.
. The visitor will receive a 404 error because, although your web server is working normally, the requested resource does not exist.
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If you’re seeing this error with all of your site’s content, it’s usually caused by a problem with your WordPress site’s permalinks. However, if you only see this for individual pieces of content, it’s usually because you changed the slug of the content section without setting up a redirect.
Additionally, a 404 error is not always bad – it’s only bad if it affects usability. And sometimes things are out of your control!
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For example, someone can enter a wrong URL in the address bar. In that case, they still get a 404 error, but there is no real problem with the configuration of your website. This is a required response and you can create your own 404 page to help direct visitors to the right site (
Because different browsers display error messages differently, you may see a different message for this error. Some common variables include:
The Error 404 Not Found message is also unique in that most websites will create their own page to resolve the error rather than displaying one of the above messages. Some WordPress themes also include traditional 404 pages. Because of this, you may not see the error message at all, as many sites will use custom or create 404 pages instead.
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Below is an example of our 404 page. We include a search box and some of our latest blog posts to help visitors find what they may be looking for. Always include a search function on your 404 page.
The 404 Not Found error is not bad for SEO. But it can have negative consequences depending on why the error occurs.
For example, if a visitor misspells a URL and sees a 404 error – it will not have a negative impact on SEO. However, if you have errors due to broken URLs, this will prevent Google from crawling your site properly and will have a bad SEO effect.
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Additionally, if a permalink issue causes a site-wide 404 error, Google will not be able to crawl any of your site’s content. In other words, always fix your 404 errors as soon as possible.
Most people don’t know this, but websites that generate a lot of 404 errors can easily get into trouble because these responses are rarely saved. We’ve seen this a lot on large sites, and it can be a big problem if you accidentally upgrade or get a traffic spike 404 virus. To minimize the impact of 404 requests on site performance, we automatically block 404 pages for 15 minutes. If you create a new page with the same URL as the blocked 404 page, we will clear the cache so that your visitors can see the new page faster. This means that your website will be protected from PHP and CPU spikes caused by traffic to dynamic 404 pages.
You’ll be generating more 404 errors than you think! Our analytics tool My Analytics Tool (as shown below) can help you find the right amount.
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You can also quickly see which are the most common 404 errors. In the example below, you can see that the site is missing some mobile devices, such as
. These are probably in the code of the theme or plugin in question, but the actual images are never added. Therefore, the server generates a 404 error because it cannot access the resource.
You can also check 404 errors in Google Search Console or install a third-party plugin such as Redirect that records 404 errors. However, remember that such plugins also affect performance. It is much better to rely on a server-level tool. That’s why we offer these tools to all customers.
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The reason these errors are bad is that most 404 pages have a lot of user power. For large sites, you should avoid a heavy 404 page. Create a simple 404 template that avoids adding database queries if possible.
Below we’ll cover a few different ways to fix the Error 404 Not Found message, depending on whether it’s happening site-wide or more specifically.
If you’re getting 404 errors all over your site when trying to access content, the most likely cause is a problem with your permalinks (or your .htaccess file or your host is using Apache). If you are a customer, we use Nginx, so you can rule out the .htaccess file as a possible cause.
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The easiest way to fix this is to adjust your permalink settings through your WordPress dashboard. All you have to do is go to Settings → Permalinks and click Save Changes (you don’t need to make any changes – just click Save Changes).
Users then try to access the documents in the old site and see a 404 page instead of what they expected. The best way to handle this is to redirect everyone who tries to access the old site to the new site. This way they get to the right place without 404 errors. It’s also good for SEO. If you move or rename a post without adding a redirect, you lose all the power associated with backlinks to that post.
By default, WordPress tries to redirect changed/moved content. But it doesn’t always work, and you shouldn’t trust WordPress on this feature. But don’t worry, there are a few easy ways to set up redirects in WordPress:
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First, you can use the free Redirection plugin to manage redirects from your WordPress dashboard. Once you have installed and configured the plugin, go to Tools → Redirects and enter the URL of the 404 page in the Source URL field and the new content location in the Destination URL field:
If you are hosting with, you can also edit redirects from my dashboard. Using ‘s tool is the best way to do this because the rules are applied at the cover level, which is the most efficient way. It also means one less third-party plugin to worry about.
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Go to the site you want to contact. Then click on the “Redirection” tab. To add a redirect, click the big “Add Redirect Rule” button:
Finally, if your host uses an Apache server, you can use .htaccess to manage redirects. Website .htaccess Generator can help you create the right code to add to your website’s .htaccess file.
While you can do what you can to prevent 404 errors by following the tips above, it is impossible to completely eliminate 404 errors because some factors are out of your control. It is not uncommon for small WordPress sites to have thousands of 404 errors each month.
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For example, if a visitor misspells a URL or another site links to a page that doesn’t exist, people will get 404 errors.