Error 404 or 404 not found is a very common error on web pages; they are a very bad experience for the user who wants to navigate to a specific web page and does not get the desired response and is also penalized by Google.
What is the 404 Error?
A 404 Error is the HTTP code that the server sends to the user when the URL they are trying to access does not exist. We usually come across this message when a page has been deleted or not written the address correctly; we find a screen with a notice such as “Error 404 not found” or “404 page not found”.
You have certainly experienced this situation on more than one occasion since it is one of the most common that can happen to us while we are browsing. Now that you know what Error 404 means if you want to know more details, what consequences it has, how to detect it and how to solve it, keep reading this article.
Why does the 404 Error occur?
There are different reasons why an Error 404 occurs; we detail them below:
- Because the user has mistyped the URL: Perhaps our visitor is looking for a specific blog article or eCommerce product by manually typing the URL and has made a typing error.
- Because the page has been deleted: For example, if we have discontinued a product from our eCommerce and deleted the page of said product.
- Because we have moved or changed the URL of the page: It could happen that to optimize SEO, we have decided to change the structure of the URL of a blog article. If a user tries to access the old URL, if a redirect to the new page has not been made, they will see a 404 not found Error.
Consequences of the 404 Error for our website
Suppose our website has one or more links with the 404 error. In that case, it can negatively affect Google’s positioning and reputation, image, and credibility that it offers to users.
But, let’s get this straight! Until a while ago, having 404 pages was a problem at the SEO level because Google interpreted it to mean that the site was not being sufficiently reviewed and cared for, but now this is not the case. If Google detects a 404 page, it simply ends up deindexing it, but where yes, the problem is in the bad user experience.
If we have links on our site that lead to 404 pages, this is a signal sent to Google, which can cause us to lower the reputation of our website. In addition, if we do not have a well-designed 404 page, offering the user to continue browsing so that they can find the content they are looking for, it will lead them to leave our site. Therefore it can also be interpreted as a bad user experience.
This last example is especially interesting if we have a well-positioned page but for some reason gives a 404 Error: if we do not help the user to continue browsing, we will be giving them a visit to the next search result.
In summary, these are the main negative consequences of this Error:
- If Google’s crawlers detect many links to errors of this type (HTTP 404), they interpret that the page is not being sufficiently reviewed and cared for and that, therefore, its maintenance is deficient.
- It also negatively influences the PageRank of the page.
- It implies a negative experience for web visitors.
- In the face of people who try to visit our page, it implies a loss of credibility and trust, something especially negative in, for example, online stores, since it means losing possible sales.
How to detect the 404 Error
We have already seen that the presence of this Error in some links on our page will affect our SEO. Therefore, to have our website as well-positioned as possible, it is important to detect if we have any broken links to eliminate or repair them.
There are various free tools for detecting these links that may appear as a 404 error:
- Google Search Console: Through this tool, the HTTP 404 error codes identified by the Google crawler are automatically displayed and, once repaired, can be marked as corrected.
- W3C Link Checker: it is an online tool capable of carrying out an exhaustive analysis of each of the individual links that make up a web page. You have to enter the URL you want (it can be ours or external) in the corresponding field, and the tool does the work automatically.
- Dead Link Checker: it is a fast and simple application that works similar to the previous one. Therefore, detecting external or internal pages with the 404 error is very practical.
How to fix Error 404
As we have seen before, the 404 Error itself is not a negative if justified, but we will have to look for solutions to avoid a bad user experience. To do this, we will have to modify the internal links that point to 404 pages and help the user find what they are looking for using one of the following options:
- Make a 301 redirect to another page: We will take the user to see the content they are looking for but whose URL we have changed.
- Create a custom 404 error page – For cases where this Error is unavoidable, it is good to have a 404 page that offers the user links related to their search, the latest articles in the post, or the best-selling items.
The option to create a custom 404 Error page
Although it does not completely solve the problem, creating a custom page that replaces the standard Google page (that is, a custom 404 page) has some advantages, such as that users will always find the correct HTTP code, such as “401 Gone”, indicating that the content has been permanently removed. On the other hand, a friendlier aesthetic is achieved through personalization that improves the user experience.
WordPress and other similar platforms automatically generate HTTP 404 error pages, although you need to customize the layout and content.
Examples of effective 404 pages
It allows users who have not found what they are looking for to do a new search or consult the site map.
2. Hub Spot
If you land on a 404 page in HubSpot, a message will appear with three options for you to choose between going to the product’s business page, going to the blog, or joining their academy.
3. Wall Street Journal
One of the most interesting examples is The Wall Street Journal, which shows the most popular content, and prompts the user to check the URL if they have written it manually or to contact the support team if they have arrived. To the 404 page through a link on the site itself.
Errors similar to Error 404
Here are some errors similar to Error 404:
- 400 Bad Request: Indicates that the server does not understand the request sent by the user and cannot process it.
- 401 Unauthorized: Indicates that the page the user is trying to access cannot be displayed without first entering the username and password.
- 403 Forbidden: Indicates that access to the page you are trying to access is prohibited.
- 408 Request Timeout: This means that a request that has been made to the server, for example, entering a website, is taking more time than the server is configured to wait.
- 500 Internal Server Error: Something is not working correctly on the server-side, but it is impossible to specify more details.
As you can see, it is very important to control the 404 errors on your site, take care of the page that displays them, and be able to solve them. If you have more questions, we encourage you to look at our section of frequently asked questions from users to finish solving them.
FAQ about Error 404
Do 404 Errors harm the SEO of my website?
Having 404 pages on your website does not harm SEO, but what could affect SEO is that you have links pointing to 404 pages that have not been redirected.
What is the 404 Error in Chrome?
A Chrome browser error occurs when it cannot process action and crashes, displaying a “Runtime error 404” notice.
How to fix Error 404 in Safari?
A runtime error usually causes the Safari 404 error. To solve it, you can stop the conflicting programs from the Task Manager in the Processes section and select the End process.
How to see 404 Errors in Google Search Console?
You can find the pages that have been moved or deleted from your website and therefore return a 404 Error in the “Google Search Console Coverage” section.
How to fix YouTube 404 problem?
When we come across a 404 Error on YouTube, it’s usually because the URL hasn’t been spelled correctly or the video no longer exists. We can try to fix it by checking that the URL is spelled correctly.
What does Error 403 mean in Google Play?
It means that the request you are attempting is prohibited. It is not necessarily because you are doing something wrong; simply, the Google Play servers are programmed to deny access to that request.