All You Need To Know About 404 Errors
Everything is going so well, then all of a sudden you have a page worth of broken 404 errors in your Webmaster tools. What happened? What will you do to fix them? Will your website lose all of it’s previous SEO efforts? These are all great questions we will answer here today.
Having someone land on a 404 page on your website is not always your fault, but even if it is, it does not have to be the end of the world. In fact, it can be a great way to increase website traffic by directing the interested party back to what they were actually looking for or back to the home or even sales page. It’s all based on first having 404 page and second how well you re-engage them and communicate to them.
What is a 404 Not Found Error?
A 404 error basically means that the webpage you were trying to load is not being found by the server. It is a HTTP standard response code that should not be confused with the server not being found. The server was found, but the information on the page cannot be found/retrieved. This tells you that the page currently exists and you can fix this mistake quite easily.
How Do I Fix a 404 Error?
A 404 error often happens when a page has been moved to a new URL or deleted. Find the old and/or new permalink and determine which of the two options below is right for this instance:
301 Redirect – If the page has been moved you need to create a 301 Moved Permanently response code. This allows the old URL address to be forwarded to the new permalink. This will fix the 404 error for this instance.
410 Gone – If the page has been deleted and you do not plan to ever have this page again, you need to add a 410 Gone response code.
How to Customize 404 Not Found Error Pages
It is a good idea to create a customized 404 error page that includes a description of what a 404 is, your logo, links to your navigation architecture, a way to search your website or whatever else is necessary to get your customers back to your website.
Do 404 Errors Affect SEO Rankings?
Although a 404 page is an “error,” the bigger your website the more 404 errors you will likely have. They do not necessarily hurt your rankings at all, but they can help you improve them with the aforementioned tactic of customizing it. Adding links to your 404 page that change each time it is loaded will allow the search engine to index different pages each time and allow the website visitor to see more options of where they were actually looking to go.