The 404 is one of the most frequent errors encountered by users everywhere. Half the time it’s a client-side problem, like typing in the wrong URL or following an incorrect bot link. When your site displays this error consistently, however, you as a business owner or web developer may have a problem on your hands.
If the page is supposed to be displayed but doesn’t, then you have content that’s consistently unavailable to users. A site may have different problems, but when content does not load at all, it is a serious one and needs to be addressed. The results can really hurt you. Conversion rates might drop, SEO ratings may be at risk and the feeling users get is of general disrepair.
It may be a different story when the 404 error happens when you have deleted content that you don’t want to keep available anymore. You expect a 404 screen to appear there, because the page really does not exist. Those require a different approach, which we will discuss as well.
So How Do You Fix 404 Errors?
Repair the broken links
As simple as that. If your page is there and still doesn’t load, chances are the URL on the link is incorrect. This may happen when you move content around the site. Check your code and make sure that your page’s URL is the same as on the link leading to it. The URL may be used in multiple parts of your code, so check thoroughly.
Create a custom 404 page
When you have over a hundred deleted blog pages that you decided to remove, you just can’t work around it. You take off the internal links leading there but external links are still out there and people keep bumping into the 404 message. If you don’t want the hassle of redirecting them, just create a custom page that will greet users and explain the situation, providing them a link to your main site so that they can still visit it. A nice, sweeping solution for the creatively lazy. Did we say “lazy”? We meant efficient of course!
Redirect them to another page on your website
This may take some time, but it is a more thorough way of fixing 404 errors. It is time-consuming because you should never redirect them all to your main page, but find the most relevant other page on your website for each one of the “empty” URLs.
There are more complicated solutions out there, but we find that those three elegantly cover the majority of situations. If you have any more questions about on site SEO and web development solutions, feel free to shoot us an email and we will be glad to assist you!