404 Error Page: How to Fix 404 Error on Your Website
404 error page is a dead link or broken links on a website that is a result of pages or URLs that have been deleted or moved to a different location, server problems or even domains that do not exist anymore.
404 error is also known as error 404, HTTP 404, or 404 code. 404 error not found is common with broken links.
Main Causes of 404 Error Not Found
Sometimes, your website visitors land on 404 error not found pages when they attempt to visit certain pages on your website. 404 error pages occur as a result of the following;
- Links that are broken or edited
- Down or unreachable server
- Wrong URL
- Pages that never existed
- Changing a page’s URL without indexing the new link
- Broken website or 505 error which can be caused by conflicting plugins or host servers
Error 404 page causes a bad user experience and may result in a low ranking, this is why it has a negative effect on SEO. When a user visits a web page that cannot be found, they are automatically redirected to a 404 error page on the website.
404 error not found is a major cause of bad user experience which lowers trust and page relevance, error pages without a search bar greatly increase bounce rate, sometimes the search bar on a page may encourage the searcher to carry out other searches on your website.
Addressing 404 error page is usually carried out by redirecting the 404 pages to a custom page on the website or a new page that contains the information the searcher is searching for on the website, or sometimes even the homepage can be used, using the homepage is usually not the best idea for ranking as it may totally share no relationship with the search intent.
Fixing the 404 error can be achieved with just a few clicks using SEO plugins like Rank Math and Yoast.
The 404 error page monitor records the URLs on which visitors and search engines run into when visiting your website. You can redirect the 404 error page to other pages by simply turning on redirections on your SEO plugin. Sometimes it is simply reported as 404 error not found.
Redirecting non-existent content easily with 301 and 302 status codes can improve your page ranking by reducing the bounce rate on the website which is a factor of how relevant your page is to a search query.
How to Solve 404 Error Problems
Redirections of error 404 pages can be achieved following processes listed below;
- Login to your WordPress dashboard
- Install and activate the Rank Math SEO plugin
- On your WordPress dashboard, hover on the Rank Math plugin and click on the dashboard
- On modules, turn on 404 monitor and redirections
- On redirections, click on settings and select the pages to redirect any 404 pages.
- You can create a default 404 page, redirect to the homepage, or a custom URL, redirecting to a home page is often not the best solution as confusion may arise on how to get back the article. This can be particularly difficult if your website is not easy to
- Save settings.
How to Create a Custom 404 Error Page
A good custom error 404 page helps to reduce the bounce rate of a website and thus, an important factor in SEO. A good custom 404 error page should contain all the information that may be needed for easy navigation of the various sections of the website like the header and footer sections, respectively.
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Adding a search bar to a custom error 404 page is a great way to help the searcher find information on the website without leaving immediately;
There are certain qualities or features of a good custom 404 error page; a good error 404 page should contain some relevant information that would be of help in keeping the searcher on the website, such information may inform the user of any issues such as broken links, and a search bar to easily search for a query on the website. The following are some essential components of error 404 page.
- Missing URL information that may have caused the automatic redirection of the searcher to a 404 error page
- The website header and footer for easy navigation to other pages on the website
- A search bar that can keep the searcher on the website to try to get the content the searcher is searching for or find other related contents on the website
- Links to the most relevant contents or sections on the website that a searcher may be interested in
Error not found pages should always state the possible problems on the URL and suggest solutions such as a correct link to easily fix them and navigate to the right pages.
Effects of 404 Error on Search Engine Optimization
Having numerous 404 error pages negatively affects your website ranking by lowering user experience, relevance and trust. Error 404 page increases the bounce rates of a website which tells search engines that your page is not relevant to a particular search and therefore would get less priority in SERP.
Ranking is a factor of relevance of web content to a search, what happens when people leave your website in just seconds is that it sends a negative message to search engines that your web content is not relevant to their search, this occurs because the searcher only arrives at an error page and not the page with the searcher intents or contents the searcher is looking for.
Whether the page reports as error 404 page not found or otherwise, it basically means the same thing. Error 404 pages have the same implication as 404 error pages and can be fixed by following the same method described above.