Guidance from Google: Resolving 404 Errors Linked to Your Website
404 errors!! Grrr…
And there leaves a visitor from your website. Errors on your website not only costs you a probable loyal customer, but also SEO ranking.
404 errors impacts user experience and hence the SEO pushing the website ranking down.
Let us read in detail what is 404 error, probable reasons and how can we fix it?
What is a 404 error?
404 error indicates that the website’s server cannot find the page that is requested.
It often happens when the link to a page is not there or the link is broken. The server responds with the 404 status code to inform the client (typically a web browser) that the requested resource cannot be located.
In simpler terms, it’s like trying to visit a page on a website, but the server can’t find that specific page, leading to a 404 error page. This error is standard and is often accompanied by a message like “Page Not Found” or something similar.
Let us now read when a 404 error happens.
When Does a 404 error happen?
A 404 error occurs when a user or a client’s web browser requests a web page or resource from a server, but the server cannot find the requested URL.
John Mueller in response to a query about 404 responded this way:
Elaborating on this, these are several situations that can lead to a 404 error:
- Page Not Found:
The typical situation leading to a 404 error occurs when a user attempts to visit a webpage that is either nonexistent or deleted from the server. This could result from an incorrectly entered URL, encountering a broken link on a website, or accessing an intentionally removed page.
- Moved or Renamed Page:
If a web page has been moved to a different URL or renamed without proper redirection setup, attempts to access the old URL will result in a 404 error.
- Server Misconfiguration:
Incorrect server configuration or mishandling of files and directories on the server can result in 404 errors. You need to take care of such petty issues because that ends as errors on your website.
For instance, if the server is not set up to manage specific file types or handle particular requests, it could generate a 404 status.
- Expired or Dead Links:
Find dead links in websites pointing to expired or no longer valid content may trigger a 404 error. This can happen if a website owner forgets to update links or the linked content has been removed.
- Broken Internal Links:
Websites with broken internal links, where one-page links to another within the same site but the target page has been deleted or moved, can cause 404 errors.
- URL Parameter Issues:
If a webpage relies on specific parameters in the URL, missing or incorrect parameters can result in a 404 error.
- Server Downtime:
Temporary server issues or downtime can lead to 404 errors. If the server is unreachable or experiencing problems, it cannot fulfil requests, resulting in a “Not Found” response.
Why do you need to fix 404 errors?
Imagine navigating a website, and instead of finding the information or page you’re looking for, you encounter a “404 Not Found” error – that frustrating message telling you the page couldn’t be located. Now, why bother fixing these annoying 404 errors?
Nobody likes dead ends. Fixing 404 errors ensures your visitors have a smooth and frustration-free browsing experience. Keeping users happy and engaged is a win for everyone. The more time the users stay on the website, the lower the bounce rate. Ultimately, this is a factor that helps improve SEO ranking.
Search Engine Love:
Search engines, like Google, don’t appreciate broken links. Fixing 404s helps maintain a positive relationship with search engines, potentially boosting your website’s visibility in search results.
Imagine a user clicks a link expecting valuable content, only to be met with a 404 error. It could be a better first impression. Fixing these errors maintains your site’s credibility and professionalism.
Broken links can harm your website’s SEO. Search engines may penalise sites with lots of 404 errors. By fixing them, you’re telling search engines that your site is well-maintained and deserves attention.
Every 404 error is a missed opportunity. It could have been a potential customer, a subscriber, or someone interested in what you offer. Fixing 404s ensures you get all the valuable connections.
Accurate data is crucial for making informed decisions. Fixing 404 errors ensures that your website analytics accurately reflect user behaviour, giving you valuable insights for improvement.
Positive Brand Image:
Consistency matters in branding. When users encounter fewer errors, they associate your brand with reliability. Fixing 404s contributes to building a positive brand image. The better the image, the more time the users spend on your website. And ultimately, you have more visitors to your website.
5 Best Broken Link Checker Tools
The broken link checker tools help you investigate anchors of 404 error pages and address any issues. Let us read about the tools one by one:
SEMrush uses its Site Audit tool to comprehensively scan websites, pinpoint broken links, and provide detailed reports. It highlights link health issues, empowering users to take corrective actions promptly.
- Comprehensive SEO Suite: SEMrush offers a broad range of SEO tools beyond broken link identification, enhancing overall website optimization.
- In-Depth Insights: Provides detailed analyses of broken links, assisting users in understanding and addressing issues efficiently.
- Efficient Monitoring: SEMrush allows users to continuously monitor and track the health of their links, aiding in proactive maintenance.
- Competitor Analysis: Offers valuable insights into competitor link strategies, aiding users in refining their link-building strategy.
- Pricing: The cost may be a limiting factor for smaller businesses or individuals.
- Learning Curve: Beginners may find SEMrush’s extensive features challenging initially.
- Overwhelming for Simple Needs: SEMrush’s extensive suite might be more than necessary for users seeking only essential broken link identification.
- Limited Free Version: While a free version exists, it has usage limitations, making the entire suite accessible only through paid plans.
2. SE Ranking
SE Ranking employs its Site Audit tool to scan websites comprehensively, pinpointing broken links and providing a detailed analysis. It offers insights into link health, empowering users to maintain a well-functioning website.
- All-in-One SEO Platform: SE Ranking offers a comprehensive suite of SEO tools, including efficient broken link identification within its Site Audit feature.
- Website Health Monitoring: The tool allows users to monitor and maintain overall website health, addressing broken links proactively.
- Competitor Analysis: SE Ranking provides insights into competitor strategies, aiding users in refining their SEO approaches.
- Keyword Tracking: It offers robust keyword tracking features, complementing its broken link identification for a holistic SEO strategy.
- Pricing: SE Ranking’s pricing may be higher for smaller businesses.
- Learning Curve: Beginners may find the interface overwhelming initially.
- Feature Complexity: The tool’s extensive features might be more than necessary for users with more straightforward needs.
- Limited Free Version: While a free trial is available, the complete range of features requires a subscription, limiting access for those on a budget.
Sitechecker employs a user-friendly interface and comprehensive link analysis tool to scan websites for broken links and redirects. It provides a clear overview, allowing users to efficiently identify and address broken links.
- User-Friendly Interface: Sitechecker’s interface is intuitive, making it accessible for users with varying experience levels.
- Actionable Insights: The tool identifies broken links and offers insights for effective problem-solving.
- Clear Overview: Sitechecker presents a concise overview of broken links, simplifying the process of addressing website issues.
- On-Page SEO Analysis: In addition to broken link identification, Sitechecker provides on-page SEO analysis for a holistic website health check.
- Limited Features: Sitechecker has a more focused feature set compared to more extensive SEO suites.
- Usage Restrictions in Free Version: The free version limits usage, potentially impacting those with frequent or extensive needs.
- More straightforward Interface Might Lack Advanced Features: Users seeking advanced SEO features may find Sitechecker’s simplicity limiting.
- May Not Replace Comprehensive SEO Tools: For users requiring a broader range of SEO features, Sitechecker might be too specialised.
Ahrefs excels in backlink analysis and provides a comprehensive overview of broken links on a website. The tool’s Site Explorer feature allows users to efficiently identify and address broken links for improved website performance.
- Robust Backlink Analysis: Ahrefs is renowned for its detailed backlink analysis, aiding in identifying broken links for a thorough website audit.
- Comprehensive SEO Suite: Beyond broken link identification, Ahrefs offers many SEO tools, including keyword research and competitor analysis.
- User-Friendly Interface: The tool provides a user-friendly experience, making it accessible for beginners and experienced users.
- Regular Updates: Ahrefs continually updates its database, ensuring accurate and real-time insights into broken links and backlinks.
- Pricing: Ahrefs is relatively more expensive, potentially limiting access for smaller businesses or individuals.
- Learning Curve: Beginners may initially find some of Ahrefs’ advanced features challenging.
- Overwhelming for Simple Needs: For users seeking only essential broken link identification, Ahrefs might offer more features than necessary.
- No Free Version: Ahrefs lacks a free version, requiring users to subscribe to its full suite of tools.
5. Google Search Console
Google Search Console offers a straightforward approach to identifying broken links by providing a ‘Coverage’ report. It presents a clear overview of crawl errors, including broken links, helping users rectify issues for improved website indexing.
- Free and Widely Used: Google Search Console is a free tool widely used by website owners and webmasters.
- Direct Insights from Google: Provides direct insights from Google about website issues, including broken links and enhancing search result visibility.
- User-Friendly Interface: Features an intuitive interface, making it accessible for users with varying levels of technical expertise.
- Integration with Google Ecosystem: Seamlessly integrates with other Google services, offering a cohesive experience for webmasters.
- Limited In-Depth Analysis: Offers less in-depth analysis compared to dedicated SEO tools.
- May Lack Advanced Features: Users with more sophisticated SEO needs may find Google Search Console lacking certain advanced features.
- Dependency on Google’s Crawl Schedule: The tool relies on Google’s crawl schedule, which may result in delays in detecting and reporting issues.
Primarily for Google Search: While beneficial for Google search visibility, it may not cover issues affecting other search engines.
How to fix a 404 error?
This is what you can do to fix 404 error:
Identify and Locate the 404 Error Source:
Begin by determining which specific URL or page is generating the 404 error. Use website analytics tools, server logs, or online broken link checkers to identify the source.
- Check server logs for error reports.
- Use online tools like Google Search Console or third-party broken link checkers to pinpoint broken links.
Check for Typos and URL Accuracy:
Verify the accuracy of the entered URL to ensure everything is clear and correct. A simple error in the URL can lead to a 404 error.
- Compare the entered URL with the correct URL structure.
- Ensure proper capitalization and characters in the URL.
Update Links and Internal Navigation:
If the 404 error is due to broken links on your website, update or correct the links to point to the correct URLs. This includes internal links within your website.
- Locate and edit the HTML code or content management system to update the incorrect links.
- Consider using relative paths for internal links to minimise the risk of broken links during website restructuring.
Implement 301 Redirects for Moved or Renamed Pages:
If a web page has been moved or renamed, set up a permanent 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one. This ensures that users and search engines are redirected seamlessly to the correct page.
- Configure server-side redirects using server configuration files or plugins.
- Ensure that the 301 redirect is set up correctly to preserve SEO value.
Customise a User-Friendly 404 Page:
Create a custom 404 error page that provides helpful information to users when they encounter a broken link. This can include a site map, search bar, or links to important pages, enhancing the user experience.
- Design a custom 404 error page with a friendly message and useful navigation options.
- Include links to important pages or a search bar to help users find relevant content.
Addressing 404 errors is vital for a seamless user experience. Identify and fix broken links, check for typos, and implement 301 redirects. Customize user-friendly error pages to enhance navigation. Use tools like Google Search Console to regularly update your sitemap for ongoing website health. To boost SEO and improve your website’s ranking, reach out to us at hello[at]noboruworld. com for expert assistance. Don’t let 404 errors hinder your online success—take proactive steps today!
Also Read – What are HTTP status codes?