How To Fix A 404 Error – I hope you enjoy reading this blog post. If you want my team to do your marketing only, click here.
It doesn’t matter if they misspelled the URL or if the page no longer exists. 404 errors can seriously damage your brand and negatively affect SEO by making it difficult for search engines to crawl your site.
How To Fix A 404 Error
In this post, I’ll explain everything you need to know about 404s, why they’re bad for business, how to spot them, and how to fix them.
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When a page is loaded in a browser, it has a response status code in the HTTP header that is not normally visible to viewers. These responses are grouped into five categories:
A 404 error (also known as HTTP code 404 or 404) is a very specific type of client error. It means that the page the viewer is trying to reach cannot be found on the server.
While you’ve probably encountered a hard 404 request when browsing a website at some point, you’re unlikely to see a soft 404 error unless Google Search Console alerts you.
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A soft 404 occurs when a non-existent page on your website displays a “not found” message to users but returns a 200 OK status to search engines.
This tells Google and other search engines that there is a page at that URL. As a result, crawlers waste time trying to crawl and rank your URL.
When it finds a page that returns a 200 OK status with all the attributes of a page that should return a 404 code, it throws a 404 error and notifies the site owner in Google Search Console.
How To Find & Fix 404 Error Pages On Your Website
You’ll get 404 errors if you’ve recently deleted or removed pages from your site without redirecting their URLs.
404 errors can also occur if you have restarted or transferred your domain and have not been able to redirect all the old URLs to the new site.
Sometimes 404 errors can result from changing a page’s URL. Changing any part of the URL, whether it’s a category name or a page, will result in a 404 error.
Landing Page Design Concept Of 404 Error Page Not Found With People Trying To Fix Error On A Web Screen Page. Vector Illustration 2304035 Vector Art At Vecteezy
Even misspelling a URL in an internal link can result in a 404 page and a broken link.
Let’s start from the user’s point of view. Continuously getting 404 errors when browsing your website will result in a terrible user experience.
404 errors aren’t a ranking factor in themselves, and Google won’t directly penalize you for having a lot of them.
What Is A 404 Not Found Error?
The more broken links your site has, the harder it is for Google and other search engines to crawl your site. Link equity will also not transfer well from your site.
You may also suffer from a high bounce rate if users leave your site after landing on a 404 page. Unlike 404 errors, bounce rates are a ranking factor, and Google can penalize your site if the bounce rate is too high.
Now you know how serious 404 errors are, let’s see how we can find and fix them.
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Website crawlers like Screaming Frogare are a great way to find broken links that quickly lead to 404 errors. Screaming Frog is also free if your site has 500 URLs or less.
However, website crawlers will not give you a complete list of 404 errors, as they only show broken links.
Google Search Console provides a list of every 404 error that Googlebot finds on your site. This includes both hard 404s and soft 404s.
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You will see a list of hard 404 errors labeled Not Found (404) and soft 404 errors labeled Soft 404.
If a page returns 404 error codes, it will appear here. Click on the issue to see a full list of pages.
If you have a lot of 404 errors, you need to prioritize your efforts. If you have 404 errors on your main pages, fix them first. Product pages, contact pages and service pages with 404 errors should be fixed first.
Broken Link 404/301 Redirect
Other pages may not be as urgent. Google Search Console can detect 404 errors on pages that a human user could never navigate to. Eventually you’ll fix them, but these mistakes shouldn’t affect your ranking too much.
If you’re getting site-wide errors, there’s probably a problem with your permalinks. Go to “Settings → Permalinks to update your settings.
If specific pages return 404 errors, you should set up a 301 redirect for them. WordPress will try to do this automatically, but sometimes it doesn’t work.
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You will then be able to redirect any URL on your WordPress site. Just enter the URL you want to redirect to in the Source URL field and the URL you want to redirect the page to in the Destination URL field.
If this seems confusing or complicated, it may be best to have a website developer or your web host support team help you with this to ensure all 404s are redirected correctly.
Smaller sites with less than 50 pages can probably check for 404 errors every month or so. Larger sites may want to check for 404 errors every week or every other day.
How To Find 404 Error Pages On Your Website Using Web Analytics
The methods I mentioned above are not the only ways to find and fix 404 errors. These are some of the other main tools you can use.
Dead Link Checker is similar to Screaming Frog. You can use it to check up to 2000 links on your site to see if any are broken.
Google Analytics doesn’t track 404 errors out of the box, but you can use it to find 404 errors if you have a custom 404 page.
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Click Advanced next to the search field, then change the rule from page to page title and enter the title of your 404 page in the content box.
Now you get a report on how many people have landed on your 404 page and where they came from.
If you have a WordPress site, MonsterInsightscan will do all the hard work for you. Instead of creating a manual report in Google Analytics, simply install the MonsterInsights plugin.
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Most standard 404 error messages are too technical for the average user to understand and do not help them find another relevant page.
With a unique 404 page, you can provide more value to your users and even help them find the information they are looking for.
Many businesses use a custom 404 error page to reinforce their brand image and inject some humor. Creating a custom URL page also makes it easier to track 404 errors in Google Analytics.
What Is A 404 Error And How Do You Fix It?
Don’t overdo it. A clean and simple 404 page is much more effective than an overly elaborate page.
If you don’t, the search engines will not recognize the page correctly. Google will continue to show the page in search results and send you a bunch of mild 404 error messages in the Search Console.
Airbnb exploits a 404 error by showing users a funny GIF and providing links to the main pages of their website.
How To Fix Error 404 Not Found On WordPress
Southwest takes full responsibility for the error and explains how it might have happened if users want to try to find the page again.
Wendy’s is moving forward with its 404 page. No links to other parts of their site here; just a free game that users can play to pass the time.
A user sees a 404 error when they have entered the correct URL, but the specific web page they are looking for does not exist on the site’s server. The site displays a 404 error page when users enter a URL like this.
What Is A 404 Error?
If you have a website, 404 errors are inevitable. But there’s no reason to let them hurt your site’s user experience and hurt your rankings.
Use the strategies and tools above to run regular checks to find and quickly fix 404 errors. The sooner you fix them, the less damage they can do.
How many 404 errors have you managed to fix on your website? Let me know in the comments.
Are 404 & Soft 404 Errors Google Ranking Factors?
Hi, I’m Neil Patel. I am determined to grow a business. My only question is, will it be yours?
He is co-founder of NP Digital. The Wall Street Journal calls him one of the web’s top influencers, Forbes says he’s a top 10 marketer, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he built one of the 100 smartest companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as one of the Top 100 Entrepreneurs Under 30 by President Obama and among the Top 100 Entrepreneurs Under 35 by the United Nations. WordPress “404 not found error” indicates that a requested page or post cannot be found on your website. This error can occur unexpectedly or in some cases after you have made changes to your WordPress site.
Fortunately, fixing this error is very easy and requires no technical expertise. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps to fix posts that return a 404 error in WordPress.
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WordPress is a flexible platform, no doubt. But its flexibility can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes you do too much, you go over some settings and all hell breaks loose, random errors start popping up and your site crashes.
Fortunately, since WordPress has so many users, it’s not hard to find help. We have created a series of articles that cover more