At some point in your web browsing life, you've undoubtedly come across a 404 error message. You typed in a URL or clicked a link to take you to a new page but suddenly - gasp - "Page Not Found."
It's not uncommon to see these types of errors while you're surfing the web, but when you find one on your own website, suddenly you've got a problem. In this blog post, we'll go over what a 404 error message means, what it means for your marketing efforts, why websites get them, and what you can do to fix any you may encounter on your website.
Error 404 (or "Page Not Found") - is a standard HTTP status code that occurs when the server can't find the document requested by a user. Basically, this is a page that doesn't exist or broken.
OR it can also be defined as:-
A 404 error message is a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) status code indicating the server could not find the requested website. In other words, your web browser can connect with the server, but the specific page you're trying to access can't be reached. There are other kinds of HTTP errors, but 404 errors are the most common:
404 Page Not Found;
Error 404 Not Found;
HTTP 404 Not Found.
Something Went Wrong or Page not Found
404 Not Found error messages can appear in any browser or any operating system. Most 404 Not Found errors display inside the browser window just as web pages do.
What causes a HTTP 404 error
There are many reasons why this HTTP status code appears on the webpages:
Page was deleted or removed from the website
The user has typed the URL address incorrectly
Page was moved to another folder and the redirection was configured incorrectly
The server malfunctions (it happens very rarely).
The requested domain name can't be converted to an IP by the domain name system (DNS)
Ideally, there shouldn't be any links that return 404 server response on the site (or external links). But let's be realistic if the site has more than a thousand pages, the occurrence of such issues can't be avoided.
How Can HTTP 404 Errors Affect Your Marketing?
Think about your browsing habits. If you're searching a website or webpage for something and you get a 404 error, what do you do? Do you try another search on that same website or do you go somewhere else because you ran into a dead-end? Many consumers will leave your site and go back to Google, Yahoo, Bing (or another search engine tool) to try again. You have less than a minute to engage a website visitor. If they land on a 404 page in that timeframe, you've likely lost them.
Make it easy for your customers to find what they are actually looking out for on your website. Offer clear, easy to follow navigation and internal linking and hopefully, you can win them over.
In addition to poor user experience, having an excessive amount of 404 errors can hurt your site's SEO efforts, causing you to appear less often in search engines results. Google takes notes of high bounce rates - a metric of people coming to your site but leaving quickly. People will leave your website if it's poorly designed and if there are excess 404 errors.
How to Identify HTTP 404 Errors
If you are in the initial stage of website building and management, you might not know if you have any 404 errors or not. You can get the knowledge from Google Search Console. Go to your Google Search Console account. Don't have an account? Create your account here, It's free! You're going to need Google Search Console in the future.
Your HTTP 404 errors will be listed in several places in your account. Your Google Search Console dashboard will show all Crawl Errors Google has identified.
You can click on the Crawl Errors tab, and it will open a page with detailed information for both desktop and mobile. You will see any HTTP 404 errors that Google has identified and when it was first detected. Google will show up to 1000 pages with errors in this report.
How to fix the error '404 Page Not Found'
A 404 error is rarely a reason to enjoy. In the end, the web site's visitors have not found the content that they were looking for. However, the appearance of a 404 page does not necessarily mean that the desired information is not available at all. In many cases, the solution to the original error is easily found and the visitor can be directed to the web page that they were actually looking for. So how exactly can you go about achieving a 404 error fix? Our advice would be to try out these potential solutions (in the order that they are listed):
Redirect the page: The best and most easiest way to fix a HTTP 404 error is to redirect the page to another one, using a "301" redirect. A 301 is a response code that signals to a user's browser that your content has moved to a new URL.
Correct the link: We are all humans, and typing errors can happen - even when creating hyperlinks. If this is the case, go back and fix the URL.
Restore deleted pages: If in case you deleted any page intentionally or accidentally, make sure you restore that page or remove that link from the website. Just because you removed a page from your website, that doesn't stop people from searching for it or clicking on links. When deleting pages, make sure to redirect them to pages with similar content or page.