By: Bayshore Solutions Digital Marketing Team
What Is A 404 (Not Found) Error?
A 404 (Not Found) Error is an HTTP standard response code indicating that the webpage was able to communicate with the server, but the server could NOT find the page that was requested. A 404 error is completely separate from a “Server Not Found” error, which means the connection to the server could not be made at all.
What Causes 404 Errors?
A 404 (Not Found) error in Webmaster Tools can be caused by a few different circumstances. Here are some examples of situations that cause 404 errors to occur:
- If you delete a page on your site (and you do not 301 re-direct the URL)
- If you change the URL name of a page (and you do not 301 re-direct the URL)
- If you accidentally misspell the URL in an internal link
- Someone else accidentally misspells the URL in link to your site
Where to Find 404 Errors In Webmaster Tools?
Before understanding how to fix 404 errors, it’s important to know where you can view “Not Found” errors that Google is discovering on your website. First, login to your Webmaster Tools account. (www.google.com/webmaster/tools). Next, click on the “Diagnostics” drop down and then click the “Crawl Errors” link. This link will show you all the 404 (Not Found) errors that Google is reporting.
How to Fix 404 Errors?
Now that you know how to find 404 (Not Found) errors, the next step is to fix them. Based on SEO best practices, it is recommended that 404 (Not Found) errors be 301 re-directed to a working/ live URL that is similar in context to the error page or that is linked in other places throughout the internet (since you would not want an error message to pop up). Also, it is important to note that not all 404 (Not Found) errors should be 301 re-directed. If you have an old page or even a large set of pages that you would like completely erased from search engines and that are not linked from other websites, it is best to let these sit as 404s rather than 301 re-directing them. Over time, Google will erase these 404 errors from the search engines naturally. According to Google’s official Webmaster Central blog, “If you’re getting rid of that content entirely and don’t have anything on your site that would fill the same user need, then the old URL should return a 404 or 410.”
For more information on 404 (Not Found) errors and how Google views 404 errors, please visit the official Webmaster Central Blog: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/05/do-404s-hurt-my-site.html
Bayshore Solutions has a team of online marketing experts that follows standard SEO best practices like 301 re-directing, keyword research, meta data optimization, and copy optimization. Our online marketing team makes sure that your website remains easy for users to navigate and index-friendly to search engines!