What is a 404 Error Code and How to Deal With It

Managing a website has become complex over time. There are several technicalities one must take care of to ensure the smooth functioning of the website and an unhindered visitor experience. 

The 404 error code is one such hindrance. It is a big turn down for a customer who visits your website and finds it. 

A 404 error code an severely damage your brand image and put a bad impression on your website visitors. Stats suggest that over 73.72% of people who encounter a 404 error leave the website and do not return. 

404 error stats

So, what exactly is a 404 error, and how can you get rid of it and get your website back to its original state? You will find answers to these questions in this article. 

 

What is a 404: Page Not Found error?

 

404 is a status code that informs website visitors of a specific technical difficulty which is the unavailability of the requested web page. A 404 error code is a part of the web’s HTTPS response code. 

 

It indicates that the server has failed to locate and access the requested web page. The scenarios when a 404: Page Not Found error occurs are as follows:

 

  • Misplaced page
  • Misplaced page directory
  • Moving the whole site
  • Failing to add 301 redirects
  • Mistyping a URL

 

Let us discuss these scenarios in detail:

404 infographic

A misplaced page or a broken website link:- 

 

The most common scenario for the non-occurrence of a 404 Page Not Found error is the altered location of the concerned web page.

 

For example, initially, you had the concerned web page in location A, and you linked it to several websites. Now, if you change the location of the web page to location B, people visiting through previous backlinks won’t be able to access it because the server is taking them to location A from where the page has been moved. 

 

It is essential to either alter the pathways from where your users are encountering the 404 error or establish the concerned web page in the correct location. However, if you face difficulties dealing with these technicalities, you can always partner with a technical SEO expert who understands them.

Misplaced page directory:- 

 

It might be the problem if more than one page on your website shows a 404 error code while navigating through specific pathways. 

 

It is when you change the location of a folder containing a specific set of web pages. You can relate it to a misplaced web page scenario. The only difference here is the displacement of a folder in place of a web page. 

 

A misplaced page directory is easy to discover. The solution for this is the same as the previous one. You must check the pathways of the links pointing to those pages or change their locations to eliminate consumer experience hindrances.

 

Moving the whole site:- 

 

It is an even bigger scale problem. It occurs when you have changed your host or shifted the website to a new location. 

 

In this case, your visitors are trying to access it in its original location, but the server does not find it there and shows a 404: Page Not Found error. All you need to do is to inform the server of its new location. You need to ensure that the server can track and locate your website in its new location.

 

However, it is a temporary issue. Your new host might already be trying to establish synergy with the server. It is good to wait a few minutes, If it does not resolve, contact your hosting provider. 

 

Not adding 301 redirects:- 

 

It is essential to add a 301 redirect after moving web pages from one web location to another. It informs the visitor as well as the browser about the relocation of a specific web page or a group of them.

 

A 404 error code may occur if you forgot to add a 301 redirect after moving your website pages. So if you want an old URL to redirect your visitors to your new location add a 301 redirect.

 

The only other kind of redirect is a 302 redirect. It also transfers visitors to your new location but fails to provide SEO value to your new web location.

 

Mistyping a URL:- 

 

It is the least possible scenario. In this case, the failure of typing the correct URL confuses the server, and it shows a 404 page. 

 

Before you get anxious and start calling your website manager, technical SEO expert, or hosting provider, It is better to double-check the accuracy of your URL. 

 

Seek complete solution with SEO Discovery:- 

 

As we discussed, there are several scenarios where a 404 error may occur and hinder your visitor’s access to your website. It can mean the loss of several valuable leads and the loss of business revenue. 

 

Dealing with the technical part of your website can be arduous. On the other hand, a small mistake can cause website downtime for hours. In other words, technical SEO is of utmost importance and should not be overlooked. It is always helpful to partner with an experienced web development service provider who understands the technical terms in and out.

 

At SEO Discovery, we are a team of experienced digital marketing  professionals excelling in various aspects of digital marketing. We provide high-quality website maintenance services to get your website alive and running 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. We manage website inventory and ensure your website’s adherence to modern technical standards.

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