What is 404 error? How to fix It

When browsing the internet, encountering a 404 error is not an uncommon experience. However, understanding what it is and how to fix it can greatly improve both user experience and website performance.

What is a 404 error?

In simple terms, a 404 error occurs when a web server can’t locate the requested URL. This could happen for various reasons, such as the page being deleted, moved to a different location, or simply mistyped by the user.

Importance of addressing 404 errors

Ignoring 404 errors can have detrimental effects on your website’s performance. It not only leads to a poor user experience but also affects your site’s search engine rankings and overall credibility.

Causes of 404 Errors

To effectively address 404 errors, it’s crucial to understand their underlying causes.

One of the most common causes of 404 errors is broken links. These occur when a hyperlink points to a page that no longer exists.

Deleted pages

If a webpage is deleted without implementing proper redirects, users will encounter a 404 error when trying to access it.

Mistyped URLs

Simple typos in URLs can lead to 404 errors. Users may inadvertently enter incorrect URLs or misspell the address they intend to visit.

Causes of 404 Errors

Impact of 404 Errors on SEO

404 errors can significantly impact your website’s search engine optimization efforts.

Decreased search engine rankings

Search engines view 404 errors as a sign of poor website maintenance. As a result, they may lower your site’s rankings in search results.

Negative user experience

Encountering a 404 error frustrates users and diminishes their trust in your website. This negative experience may lead them to abandon your site altogether.

Loss of traffic and potential customers

When users encounter 404 errors, they’re less likely to explore your website further or make a purchase, resulting in lost opportunities for engagement and conversion

How to Identify 404 Errors

To address 404 errors effectively, you must first identify them on your website.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console provides a comprehensive overview of any 404 errors detected on your site, allowing you to address them promptly

Website crawlers

Utilizing website crawling tools can help identify broken links and other potential issues that may trigger 404 errors.

Analyzing website traffic

Monitoring your website’s traffic can also reveal instances of users encountering 404 errors, enabling you to take corrective action

Methods to Fix 404 Errors

Once you’ve identified 404 errors, it’s essential to implement strategies to fix them promptly.

Redirecting broken links to relevant pages on your website helps ensure a seamless user experience and prevents potential traffic loss.

Creating custom 404 pages

Designing custom 404 error pages with helpful navigation links can guide users back to your site’s main content and alleviate their frustration.

Regularly monitoring website for errors

Continuously monitoring your website for 404 errors allows you to address them promptly and prevent them from negatively impacting user experience and SEO.

Best Practices for Handling 404 Errors

Following best practices can help mitigate the effects of 404 errors and maintain a positive user experience on your website.

Best PracticeExplanation
Implementing permanent redirects (301)By using 301 redirects, you inform search engines that the requested page has permanently moved to a new location. This not only preserves the SEO value of the original page but also ensures a seamless experience for users by automatically directing them to the relevant content.
Providing helpful error messagesClear and informative error messages play a crucial role in minimizing user frustration when they encounter a 404 error. Instead of generic messages, offer specific guidance, such as suggesting navigation to popular pages, providing a search bar, or presenting links to related content.
Updating internal linksRegularly auditing and updating internal links ensures that users are directed to valid and accessible web pages, reducing the likelihood of encountering 404 errors. Broken links not only disrupt the user experience but also negatively impact search engine rankings.
Implementing custom 404 pagesDesigning custom 404 error pages allows you to engage users creatively when they land on a non-existent page. Instead of a generic error message, customize the page with relevant branding, helpful navigation links, and a friendly message that acknowledges the error and redirects users to relevant content.

Tools for Managing 404 Errors

Several tools and resources are available to help website owners effectively manage and address 404 errors.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console’s error reporting features provide valuable insights into 404 errors on your site and offer recommendations for fixing them.

Website auditing tools

Third-party website auditing tools can scan your site for broken links and other technical issues that may contribute to 404 errors.

Content management systems

Many content management systems offer built-in features for managing redirects and customizing 404 error pages, simplifying the process of addressing and preventing 404 errors.

Tools for Managing 404 Errors

Preventing Future 404 Errors

Taking proactive measures to prevent 404 errors is essential for maintaining a seamless user experience and preserving your website’s SEO value.

Regularly updating and maintaining website

Regularly updating and maintaining your website’s content and structure minimizes the likelihood of encountering 404 errors due to outdated or inaccessible pages.

Using canonical tags

Implementing canonical tags helps search engines identify the preferred version of duplicate content, reducing the risk of 404 errors caused by indexing issues.


In conclusion, addressing 404 errors is essential for maintaining a positive user experience, preserving search engine rankings, and maximizing the effectiveness of your website. By understanding the causes of 404 errors, implementing proactive strategies to identify and fix them, and following best practices for handling and preventing future errors, you can ensure that your website remains accessible, user-friendly, and optimized for search.

Read More What is 404 error? How to fix It


What should I do if I encounter a 404 error while browsing a website?

If you encounter a 404 error while browsing a website, it means the page you’re trying to access cannot be found. You can try a few steps to resolve this issue:
Double-check the URL for any typos or errors and correct them if necessary.
Refresh the page or try accessing it again later, as the error may be temporary.

How can I prevent 404 errors on my website?

Preventing 404 errors involves proactive maintenance of your website. Here are some steps you can take:
Regularly monitor your website for broken links and outdated pages, and fix or remove them promptly.

 Why are 404 errors bad for SEO?

404 errors can negatively impact your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) efforts in several ways:
Search engines interpret 404 errors as a sign of poor website maintenance, which can lead to decreased rankings in search results.

 What are the benefits of creating custom 404 error pages?

Custom 404 error pages offer several benefits for both users and website owners:
They provide a better user experience by offering helpful navigation links and suggestions for finding relevant content, reducing frustration and encouraging users to explore the site further.

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