The 404 Error, or "Not Found" error, is a common HTTP status code that indicates a requested resource cannot be found on the server. This can be caused by various factors, such as a broken link, a moved or deleted file, or an incorrectly typed URL. In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps to identify, diagnose, and fix 404 errors on your website.
Table of Contents
- Understanding the 404 Error
- Identifying 404 Errors on Your Website
- Fixing 404 Errors
- Broken Links
- Moved or Deleted Files
- Incorrectly Typed URLs
- Related Links
Understanding the 404 Error
The 404 Error is a standard HTTP response code that indicates the server was unable to find the requested resource. This error can occur for various reasons, including:
- A broken link on your website
- A moved or deleted file
- An incorrectly typed URL
Understanding the cause of a 404 error is crucial to resolving the issue and improving your website's user experience.
Identifying 404 Errors on Your Website
To identify 404 errors on your website, you can use various tools and methods, including:
Google Search Console: This free tool provided by Google allows you to monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your website's presence in Google Search results. It can provide reports on 404 errors encountered by users and Googlebot. To use Google Search Console, sign up here.
Web Server Logs: Your web server logs can provide information on 404 errors encountered by users. Check your web server's documentation for instructions on how to access and analyze your server logs.
Fixing 404 Errors
Once you've identified the 404 errors on your website, you can take the following steps to fix them:
Broken links are links that point to a non-existent page. To fix broken links, you can either update the link to point to the correct URL or remove the link if it's no longer relevant.
- Locate the broken link on your website.
- Determine the correct URL for the link.
- Update the link to point to the correct URL or remove the link if it's no longer relevant.
- Test the link to ensure it's working correctly.
Moved or Deleted Files
If a file or page has been moved or deleted, you can fix the 404 error by either redirecting the old URL to the new location or restoring the deleted file.
- Determine if the file or page has been moved or deleted.
- If the file or page has been moved, set up a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL.
- If the file or page has been deleted, consider restoring the file or setting up a 301 redirect to a relevant page on your website.
- Test the URL to ensure the 404 error has been resolved.
Incorrectly Typed URLs
If a user has typed an incorrect URL, you can't directly fix the issue. However, you can improve the user experience by creating a custom 404 error page that provides helpful information and links to guide users to the correct content.
- Create a custom 404 error page that includes a clear message, helpful links, and a search feature.
- Configure your web server to display your custom 404 error page when a 404 error occurs.
- Test your custom 404 error page to ensure it's working correctly.
How can I create a custom 404 error page?
To create a custom 404 error page, design a user-friendly page with a clear message, helpful links, and a search feature. Then, configure your web server to display your custom 404 error page when a 404 error occurs. Check your web server's documentation for instructions on how to set up a custom 404 error page.
What is a 301 redirect?
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect that tells browsers and search engines that a page or resource has moved to a new location. Using a 301 redirect can help you maintain your search engine rankings and ensure users find the correct content when a file or page has moved.
How can I monitor 404 errors on my website?
You can monitor 404 errors on your website using tools like Google Search Console, web server logs, and third-party tools like Screaming Frog and Ahrefs.
How do I fix a 404 error caused by an incorrect URL in an external link?
If the 404 error is caused by an incorrect URL in an external link, you can contact the website owner and request that they update the link with the correct URL. Alternatively, you can set up a 301 redirect from the incorrect URL to the correct URL on your website.
Can 404 errors affect my website's SEO?
Yes, 404 errors can negatively impact your website's search engine rankings if they result in a poor user experience. Search engines may penalize websites with a high number of 404 errors, as this can indicate low-quality content or poor site maintenance.