What is a 404 Error?

404 is the “page not found” error code a website shows when a visitor tries going to a webpage that the site can’t find on its server.

This happens for a number of reasons:

  • The page has been renamed or removed
  • The content has been moved to another page without the link being adjusted
  • The URL was typed incorrectly
  • The connection to the site’s server isn’t working properly

You’ve probably landed on a few 404 pages yourself whilst browsing the internet and as well as being a frustrating experience for users, it can also harm your SEO if not addressed, especially if you have links pointing to those missing pages.

In this guide we’re going to take a deep dive into 404 pages and how to deal with them using 301 redirects.

Why Should You Fix Your 404 Pages?

Having 404 errors on your site is generally not a good sign, as it could negatively affect your customer’s experience, which could then have a snowball effect on your business. Fix these errors ASAP as 404 pages can cause:

  • Poor user experience

The most obvious problem is that the user doesn’t get what they want. Poor user experience leads to a host of other problems for the site owner, including complaints or loss of business.

  • Reduces customer trust

Users are less likely to trust and continue browsing a site that seemingly offers what they want but only returns dead-end pages.

  • Affects search rankings

Search engines aim to provide the best search results for users. When Google crawls a website and finds that it has plenty of 404 errors, that site is likely to get its search ranking bumped down. Google doesn’t want to serve up search results that have 404 errors to its users.

404 errors also act as a sign to search engines to stop indexing the affected page. That means it will eventually disappear from search results. All these scenarios ultimately boil down to lesser traffic.