Encountering a 404 error is a common experience for internet users navigating websites. Despite their prevalence, many individuals may not fully grasp the significance of these errors, potentially overlooking opportunities for improvement. In this discussion, we delve into the nature of 404 errors, their triggers, and their implications for website SEO.

error 404 sample page

What Are 404 Errors

404 errors, denoted by the HTTP internet response code, occur when attempting to access a URL without any assigned content. In simpler terms, these errors manifest when users try to access pages or content with invalid addresses, often displaying a “page not found” message.

A 404 error is like a signpost on the internet highway, telling you that the webpage you’re looking for is missing or can’t be found. It’s not a website breakdown, but more of a message from the server saying, “Sorry, the page you want isn’t here.” When you see “page not found” or “Error 404,” it means the server couldn’t locate the content you requested.

This happens for various reasons – maybe you typed the web address wrong, followed an old or broken link, or the webpage has been removed. It’s like trying to reach a destination, but the road is closed. For website owners, it’s crucial to understand these 404 errors, as they provide valuable insights into user experiences. Fixing them ensures smoother navigation for visitors and keeps the website in good shape for search engines.

What Causes 404 Errors

broken links and 404 errors

Common triggers for 404 errors include mistyped URLs, deleted content, altered URL addresses, server downtimes, DNS issues, and dead links. Dead links, which lead to unassigned resources, are particularly relevant, and website owners should be vigilant in identifying and fixing them to avoid penalties from search engines.

How Do 404 Errors Impact SEO?

Search engines, such as Google, prioritize websites that offer a seamless user experience, penalizing those with broken internal and outgoing links. The negative impact on SEO underscores the importance of regularly scanning and fixing 404 errors on a website.

How To Fix 404 Errors With Redirects And Pass On Domain Authority

When altering a page’s URL or merging content, setting up a 301 redirect is crucial. This ensures traffic from the old URL redirects to the new one, preserving valuable “backlink juice” or link authority. Failure to implement redirects may result in minimal penalties from search engines, but maintaining link authority becomes challenging.

How Fixing 404 Errors Improves SEO

Tools like dead link checkers facilitate the identification of 404 errors on a website. For WordPress users, installing redirection plugins simplifies the process of redirecting users from old to new URLs. This proactive approach ensures a seamless browsing experience and helps maintain a website’s SEO integrity.

Your content should never link to a 404 page. If there is no related page you can redirect visitors to, consider installing a plugin to redirect all other 404 pages to your website’s homepage. There are many of these plugins available for free on WordPress. By reducing the number of 404 links on your website, you can improve the user experience and climb organic search rankings.

How To Leverage Other Websites 404 Errors To Build Backlinks

Backlink Management Graphic

Website developers and SEO experts recognize 404 errors as detrimental to a site’s organic search rankings. Identifying broken links on other websites presents an opportunity for businesses to gain domain authority. By reaching out to website owners and offering pre-written, relevant content, businesses can secure new backlinks while helping others resolve 404 errors.

How Fixing 404 Errors Can Benefit Your SEO

A thorough understanding of 404 errors and their impact on SEO is crucial for maintaining a website’s performance. Proactive measures, such as regular error checks and effective redirects, contribute to a positive user experience and bolster a site’s standing in search engine rankings. Leveraging others’ 404 errors for backlink opportunities is an innovative strategy that can position businesses as industry experts.

To learn more about how fixing 404 errors can benefit you, check out our blog.

Originally published . Last updated .

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