404 (HTTP Status Code)

HomeSEOGlossary
404 HTTP Status Code

What Is 404 Error?

404 is an error message given when a user or web browser, attempts to visit a page but could not return any content.

Why Does a 404 Error Appear?

There are a few different reasons why a 404 may appear on a page. These include:

  • The page has relocated 
  • The page has been deleted
  • The domain no longer exists
  • The URL was typed incorrectly into the browser 
  • When created it was written incorrectly
  • The connection to the server running the website is broken
  • An incoming link is broken 
  • An internal link is broken

Are 404 Errors Bad?

The answer is no, not all bad. After all, it can inform the end user that a page no longer exists, which is just a part of having an evolving website. 

A 404 is useful if you have deleted a page and the content isn’t available anywhere else. Additionally if a product on your e-commerce site is no longer on offer, a 404 error works fine.

Obviously a 404 page will not be indexed because the content on its page no longer exists.

However, a ton of 404 error pages on your website isn’t great, and will provide a poor UX (User Experience) because end users will get frustrated that they can’t find the information they are seeking.

It can also be a tough situation when you find your website has incoming 404s, because whilst it is not your fault, you are losing potential traffic. 

What Are Some 404 Best Practices?

There a few tactics you can employ to ensure you are adhering to 404 best practices.

1. Get in Touch With the Webmaster of the Site

If a website has incorrectly written the URL linking to your website, you can get in touch with the webmaster and ask them to correct the mistake. It will be beneficial to both of you.

2. Use a 301 Redirect for Misspelt URLs

If a 404 has occurred due to a misspelling in your URL, then all you need to do is 301 redirect to the new correctly spelt URL without losing any traffic.

3. Use a 301 Redirect for Deleted Pages

If you have deleted a web page, but the content is still accessible in another location on your website, then use a 301 redirect.

4. Create a Helpful 404 Page

Customise your 404 page to provide useful information that will guide the end user to the right place. Add a search box so visitors can continue browsing your website.

How Can We Help?

Got lots of 404 pages that you think should be a redirect or something else? We can get you paired with a team who will know what’s best and help you implement it all.

Meanwhile, check out our training courses for the best and latest SEO practises that you could be using in your plan of action today!