Here’s How to Identify, and Correct 404 Pages on Your Website.

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Have you ever wondered how to find out if your site has a 404 page? Or maybe you want to know how to fix a 404 error? If so, then read on. This article will show you how to identify and fix 404 pages on your WordPress website.

What is a 404 Page?

A 404 page is the default landing page that appears when a user types in an incorrect URL in the search bar or browser. It’s usually displayed after a site has been hacked or suffers from some other technical glitch, and it provides instructions on how to get back to the homepage.

Reasons Why a 404 Page Appears

404 errors are widespread on websites. A 404 page is displayed when someone tries to access a web page that doesn’t exist. For example, this could happen because the page was deleted, moved, or renamed.

There are two main reasons why a search engine would display a 404 error. One is because the page doesn’t exist—for instance, you tried to access a page from the search box deleted months ago. 

Another possibility is that the page does exist but is broken. For example, if the page is missing images or text.

There are other reasons as well:

1. The page doesn’t exist

2. The page exists, but the web admin has removed it

3. The page exists, and it is a broken link

4. The page exists, but there is an issue with the link

5. The page exists; however, the user agent is not supported.

Why Do We Need a 404 Page?

Our browser sends a request to the webserver when we visit a website. When the server receives this request, it checks whether the requested resource exists. If not, the server responds with an HTTP status code of 404 Not Found.

So, if someone tries to access a nonexistent page, the server returns a response with a 404 status code. In addition, the server may send a header called Location with information about where the visitor should go next.

The location header tells the browser to load another web page, so it’s essential to make sure that the 404 page contains links to all the pages on the site. Otherwise, visitors might get lost trying to find their way around the site.

How To Create a 404 Page

Creating a custom 404 page is crucial to making your site more professional. Here are a few ways to create a custom 404 page: 

The most common way for a website owner to create a 404 error page is by using a custom-built script. This method involves creating a PHP file with code that displays the correct message based on what happened. 

For example, about Usenet:

A simple search will return thousands of results; however, only one result comes up if you type “Usenet” into Google. 

Many different websites use the same name as Usenet. Therefore, Google automatically redirects users who type in “Usenet.” 

If they try to access any of these pages, they end up at the 404 page instead.

If your website uses a CMS like WordPress, you can also create a custom 404 page. Then, within the body of the page, you can include a link to the home page.

Another option is to use a WordPress 404-page plugin. With a plugin, you can customize the 404 page without writing any code. Instead, you simply choose which template should be used, and you can change its appearance.

How to Fix Soft 404 Errors

Soft 404 errors occur when a web server does not respond to a particular URL. A soft 404 occurs because the web server either doesn’t recognize the URL or doesn’t understand the format of the URL. 

However, if index.php is missing from the path, the server knows something has gone wrong. Therefore, it will display a 404 error page.

To fix a soft 404 error, you need to add index.php to the URL. However, to prevent soft 404 errors from occurring, you must configure your webserver correctly.

What Is a Hard 404 Error?

Hard 404 errors occur when a user enters an incorrect URL. These errors usually happen when a person mistypes a word or makes a mistake while typing a URL. 

For example, a hard 404 error could occur if someone typed www.mysite.com/index.html instead of www.mysite.co.uk/index.html.

Because a hard 404 error happens when a user inputs an invalid URL, the problem is often caused by a typo. For instance, if a user accidentally entered www.mysite.com instead of www.mysit3.com, the server would know something was amiss. 

So, it would show a 404 error page. But, if the user had misspelled mysite.com, the server wouldn’t know what to do. Therefore, it would just give a generic error message.

The 404 error creates a bad user experience, so it’s essential to solve it immediately. 

The Best 404 Pages

When designing a 404 page, keep in mind that people expect certain things. For example, they don’t want to see a plain white screen with a big red text saying “Page Not Found!” Instead, they want to see a helpful message.

Here are some tips for designing a good 404 page:

  • Make sure that the content matches the purpose of the page. For example, if you have a blog, don’t put a 404 page together that looks like a regular website. Make sure that the design fits the theme of the site.
  • Keep the content brief. People don’t want long messages. Keep it short and sweet.
  • Use a friendly tone. Don’t make fun of yourself. Your audience wants to feel comfortable reading your message.
  • Don’t forget the call to action.
  • Include helpful links to other parts of your site so that visitors can get back to where they were going.
  • Consider adding images to help explain what happened.
  • Avoid using too much text. Too much text can overwhelm readers.

How to Prevent 404 Errors

There are several ways that you can prevent 404 client errors from happening on your website:

  1. Make sure that the URLs on your site are correct.
  2. Check your DNS settings.
  3. Ensure that your web server is configured correctly.
  4. You need to ensure that all files are uploaded to the right place.

URL Correctness

If your URLs aren’t correct, you will probably receive a 404 error. Therefore, you should always double-check your URLs before uploading anything to your server. If you find any mistakes, you should contact your hosting provider immediately.

DNS Settings

Your DNS settings determine how your domain name gets translated into IP addresses. If you use GoDaddy as your web host, you can access these settings through the Domain Manager. 

If you use another web host, you may access this information by contacting their customer service department.

Web Server Configuration

Finally, it would help ensure that your web server was correctly configured. This step includes ensuring that the file permissions are set up correctly and that there are no missing directories or files.  

FAQ

What Is A 404 Error?

A 404 error means that something went wrong with the URL. The most common reason for dead links is that the page was not found because it doesn’t exist. 
Other causes include incorrect directory structure, improper file permissions, or an invalid link. 

How Do I Find Out Why My Site Has A 404 Error?

You can find out why your site has a 404 error by looking at the log files on your web server. These logs record everything that happens on your server, including requests made to your site.  When you get a 404 error, the request that caused it appears in one of these logs. By reading these logs, you will find out what happened.

How Can I Avoid Getting A 404 Error On My Website?

To avoid getting a 404 error on your website, you need to make some changes. First, you need a good understanding of how your webserver works.  Second, You also need to understand how your DNS records work so that you can create proper links.  Finally, you need a solid knowledge of HTML and CSS coding. Once you have done all of these things, you won’t have any problems.

Can I Get Rid Of A 404 Error Without Changing Anything Else?

Yes, you can fix a 404 error without changing anything else. All you need to do is change how people reach your site. Instead of using the old URL, you should use a new one. In other words, you should update your links to point to the unique URL.

How Long Does It Take To Correct A 404 Error?

It depends on how severe the error is. For example, if you just changed a single letter in a URL, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. However, if you added a whole new page to your site, it could take several days.

What is a Client-Side Error?

Client-side errors occur when visitors click on a link on your site and get redirected to another page. They are usually harmless, but they can cause visitors to lose their place on your site.

Lori Ballen SEO

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