Find and Fix 404 errors

Your website is important for your business; thus it is essential to ensure it is running smoothly!

While browsing the internet, it is safe to say that we have all come across a 404 error at some point or another. There is nothing more annoying than coming across such a page while searching for information. Whether it is a mistyped URL or a page that no longer exists, 404 errors can have a negative effect on the performance of your website. Not only does this frustrate users, it also sends bad signals to search engine bots and crawlers.

Just one 404 error could cost you a customer. Therefore, it is crucial to find and fix 404 errors as quickly as possible.

Stuck on how to find and fix 404 errors? Read below for more tips and tricks!

find and fix 404 errors woman on phone

Find and Fix 404 errors

What is a 404 Error?

When a user tries to open a URL or page that cannot be found, a 404 error message code is caused. This might be because the page no longer exists, or the URL has been changed.

There are two types of 404 errors to look out for- Hard 404 and Soft 404. While the user may be satisfied with the message or a redirect to other content, the search engine crawlers depend on the code returned from your server to determine if there is content on the page that needs to be indexed.

Don’t let the name fool you! Soft 404 errors are much more damaging to your website’s visibility than a hard 404 error. A soft 404 error occurs when a wrong code (often a 200-response code) is returned when a user tries to access a page that no longer exists. Although the right error is displayed to the user, it also needs to be displayed correctly to the crawlers so they know to ignore the page. When the correct code is not displayed to crawlers, they will waste quality indexing time trying to index content that does not exist. A high number of soft 404 errors can have a negative impact on your organic search performance. It is recommended that you use tools provided by Google Search Console to help identify soft 404 errors.

However, when done correctly the user will receive a 404 error and the server will fetch a 404-response code, thus letting both reader and crawlers know that the page no longer exists and needn’t be crawled. Additionally, using a custom 404 error page or redirecting users to relevant and helpful content, you reduce the risk of problems when removing or deleting a page.

404 Errors and SEO

404 errors can have a negative effect on your website with regards to usability and search engines. A high number of 404 error pages warrants a negative user experience, and are then more likely to leave your website and go to a competitor. Additionally, a high number of 404 errors wastes search engine crawl resources raising the risk of crawlers not being able to access valuable content.

404 errors don’t visibly impact the ranking of your website. However, too many 404 errors could lead to higher bounce rates and lower time spent on your website. These user signals will have a negative impact on your rankings.

find and fix 404 errors google search console

How to Find and Fix 404 errors

Finding 404 Errors

There are various helpful methods and tools to find broken links and 404 errors. 

A popular tool for checking broken links that lead people to 404 errors on your website is the broken link crawl (or scan) tool. Crawl tools, like Screaming Frog, check all the links on your website to determine whether the link leads to a 404 error.  These types of tools can be incredibly helpful to quickly evaluate the health of the links within your website. Running a crawl can help you identify which links on your website are broken, which does help you identify the source of the error making it easier to know what to correct. Plus, these tools tend to be easy to install and configure.

Site crawlers are a great way to find pages with 404 errors, however, they do have a limited scope. Crawl tools are unable to check for broken links from external sources such as social media, emails and external backlinks.

Google search console provides you with lots of useful information about your website. It is a useful tool that can find every 404 error on your website. It provides a list of both hard and soft 404 errors that have been detected on your website. By logging in to search console, clicking coverage and selecting the excluded tab, you can see a list of hard 404 errors (marked not found) and soft 404 errors (marked soft 404).

Fixing 404 Errors

Every website will encounter a 404 error sooner or later. Continually tracking and fixing 404 errors are crucial. There are a number of ways to fix a 404 error on your website.

Redirect:

The simplest and easiest way of fixing a 404 error is redirecting the page to another one with a permanent 301 redirect. It is important to ensure that you are redirecting the user to a page that is relevant to them.

Correct Link:

If there are broken links on your website, ensure you edit the link to point to the correct URL

Restore Deleted pages:

Often, users will come looking for a page that has been deleted on your website. This may be because they do not know it no longer exists or the users or, users might land on that page through external links. If there is significant traffic to a page that has been deleted, and your website has no relevant and similar content they can be redirected to, consider restoring the original page.

Custom 404 Page:

Custom 404 pages ensure that no visit is wasted. This makes it clear that this page no longer exists. Specially designed 404 errors pages can include links to direct readers to similar and relevant content. By taking these measures and providing incentives, you may prevent users from leaving your site straight after seeing the 404 code.

find and fix 404 errors apple computer

How to Find and Fix 404 errors

How Often Should You Find and Fix 404 errors?

Running a website for your business requires a lot of work! It takes a lot of time, money, and effort to get people to notice, visit, and use your website and services. You do not want to lose existing and potential customers to a multitude of 404 error pages! Thus it is essential to find and fix 404 errors as soon as possible!

The size of your site is dependant on how often you should check for 404 errors. However, it is recommended that they be checked for at least once a month or once a week for larger sites. Oftentimes, the first time you check for 404 errors there may be many and will take some time to fix. Consistency is key and the more these are discovered and remedied, the quicker their negative effects can be negated.

Need Some Help With to Find and Fix 404 Errors? 

 If you have a website, 404 errors are inevitable. However, there is no reason to let them damage your site’s user experience and affect your rankings. To ensure the smooth running of your website, and ultimately a business, it is important to keep 404 error to a minimum. They affect the usability, user experience and search engine resources. These negative effects can be reduced if find and fix 404 errors as soon as possible.  However, this can be tricky and hard to get right. Why not let the experts handle it? Get in touch with the DNHQ team today!