If you have an online presence or if you are even browsing websites online you might come across a page that say “404 – Page Not Found”.
It is good and it is bad. There are various reasons you might have landed on a page. This post will help users who have their own website or blog or any online presence. Let us understand where 404 can help or even destroy your website traffic.
What is a dead link?
Links that don’t lead anywhere are known as ‘dead links’ or ‘broken links’. The HTTP response status code 404 is often referred to as ‘error 404’, ‘HTTP 404’, or ‘404 code’.
What triggers a 404 error?
1. The URL or its content (such as files or images) was either deleted or moved (without adjusting any internal links accordingly).
2. The URL was written incorrectly (during the creation process or a redesign), linked incorrectly, or typed into the browser incorrectly.
3. The server responsible for the website is not running or the connection is broken.
4. The requested domain name can’t be converted to an IP by the Domain Name System (DNS).
5. The entered domain name doesn’t exist anymore.
404 errors can damage a website’s ranking and reputation
Search engines, such as Google and Bing, will have a negative impression of a site if it has many 404 errors. Once the crawlers have established that many requests are being met with 404 codes, it presumes the site isn’t very well maintained.
Dead links affect a site’s ranking and Google can decrease its placement in the SERPs or even stop indexing it if there are too many 404 error pages occurring. This may result in a considerable decrease in visitor numbers for the website.
The visitor loses trust in the site if it’s full of broken links or if the landing page (the page that is accessed from the search engine results) is dead. If the site is experiencing this problem regularly, many users won’t take the trouble to continue to search since they aren’t even sure if the desired content is still available.
Here is how you can handle 404 error:
Creating a 404 error page
Frameworks like Jhoomla, WordPress comes with default 404 error page, but you can create your own error page too.
The need of the hour is to personalize your error page and be creative. But make sure the design of the page matches your website theme and aesthetics.
If you have a page or post that was deleted and no longer available you can add a 301 redirect for that url and redirect it to new url. So when user tries to open old url which does not exists, your website will instead load the new url.
These are just a few quick best practices you should follow when updating website or if it is difficult let professionals handle it for you.
Hence you have a good understanding and hopefully you have answers to questions like