Updated on February 4, 2024
One of the important tasks for website owners is to regularly monitor and address any 404 errors on their website. These 404 errors occur when a page or resource that the user is trying to access cannot be found. Not only do these errors frustrate users, but they can also negatively impact the website’s search engine ranking. In this article, we will discuss how you can find and fix 404 errors using the Google Search Console.
What are 404 errors?
When a user clicks on a broken link or enters an incorrect URL, they encounter a 404 error page. Essentially, it means that the requested page is not available on the website. This could happen due to various reasons such as the page being removed, URL changes, or the user mistyping the URL.
Importance of addressing 404 errors
Addressing 404 errors is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it ensures a seamless user experience. When users encounter a broken link or a non-existent page, it can create frustration and lead them to leave the website. By fixing 404 errors, you can retain visitors and improve user satisfaction.
Secondly, search engines like Google take 404 errors into account when ranking websites. A website with numerous broken links may be considered less reliable, leading to a drop in search engine rankings. By actively identifying and resolving these errors, you can improve your website’s visibility and SEO performance.
Finding 404 errors using Google Search Console
Google Search Console, a free tool provided by Google, offers valuable insights into the performance of your website in search results. To find 404 errors using this tool, follow these steps:
- First, sign in to your Google Search Console account.
- Select the relevant property (website) for which you want to find 404 errors.
- In the left-hand menu, click on “Coverage.”
- Under the “Error” tab, you will find a list of URLs that encountered errors. Look for URL errors labeled as “404” to identify pages with 404 errors.
- Click on each URL to view more details and understand the specific issues causing the 404 error.
Fixing 404 errors
Once you have identified the pages with 404 errors, it is essential to fix them promptly. Here are a few solutions:
1. Redirect to a relevant page
If the page that generated the 404 error is moved or replaced, you can redirect the user to a similar or relevant page. This can be done by setting up a 301 redirect, which notifies search engines that the original page has permanently moved.
2. Restore the missing page
If the page was mistakenly removed or deleted, you can restore it from a backup or create a new page with similar content. This ensures that visitors can access the intended information without encountering a 404 error.
3. Customize the 404 error page
Instead of displaying a generic 404 error page, you can create a custom error page that provides helpful information and suggests alternative pages. This way, users are guided even if they land on a non-existent page.
4. Update or fix internal links
Check for any internal links on your website that might be leading to non-existent pages. Update these links to point to the correct URLs or remove them altogether.
Regularly monitoring and prevention
Fixing existing 404 errors is important, but it is equally crucial to prevent them from occurring in the future. Here are a few preventive measures:
1. Regularly monitor your website
Use tools like Google Search Console or external website crawlers to periodically scan your website for broken links and 404 errors. This allows you to quickly identify and rectify any issues.
2. Implement proper URL redirects
When moving or deleting pages, ensure that you set up proper redirects to guide users and search engines to the correct pages. This helps maintain the link equity and ensures a smooth user experience.
3. Double-check URL changes
Before changing URLs or reorganizing your website structure, thoroughly review the impact it might have on existing links. Update any internal or external links accordingly to avoid 404 errors.
4. Regularly update and test your website
Keep your website’s content and links up to date. Schedule periodic checks to ensure all pages are functioning correctly and there are no broken links or missing resources.
404 errors can negatively impact user experience and search engine rankings. By regularly monitoring and addressing these errors using tools like Google Search Console, website owners can ensure a seamless user experience, maintain their website’s credibility, and improve SEO performance. Remember to promptly fix 404 errors, redirect pages when necessary, and implement preventive measures to avoid future errors. By prioritizing error resolution, you can create a better online experience for your users and enhance the overall performance of your website.
Who is Alizaib Hassan? Alizaib Hassan is a search engine optimization specialist. Alizaib Hassan: Automate SEO-related tasks using Python. Alizaib regularly attends webinars, conferences, and SEO-related events. He focuses on automation, data science, web development, entity-based SEO, marketing, and branding.