It happens to everyone, and it happens all the time. You’ve seen it; I’ve seen it. The crazy thing is most of us never really look further than the sign that hits our screen: 404 Error, Page Not Found. And when this happens we have a quick internal sigh, hit the “click to go back” button, and sometimes all together abandon the site to peruse a different source of cyberspace that is more reliable. Google has been throwing a lot more than usual 404 Errors lately, meaning the time to listen in is now!
So what is this mysterious 404 Error? How does it occur? What are the implications?
Let’s dive in with the first thought: what is a 404 Error? A 404 or Not Found page error is a response code (that comes from the server folks) informing a client that the web page, at the given URL, could not be found. This typically happens when a user attempts to follow a now dead or broken link through a search engine listing or a link from an associated website. (This is not good folks; any viewer would give the experience a 0/10 stars 100% of the time.)
404 Page Not Found Errors can happen for a few reasons:
Possibility Section 1:
A page that was deleted, a page that has changed its URL, or an incorrectly linked URL on a different site.
Possibility Section 2:
The other possibility, the one that is not within your direct control, is that a user incorrectly typed in a URL that is not found within the domain of a website. (ie. www.clickmonster.com/i-really-hope-this-page-exists-but-dont-have-my-hopes-up; the URL for this page doesn’t exist within the website so a 404 is sure to come up.)
The issue with a 404 is two parts:
1. Users will immediately go back to the page before or seek another site. This effects your bounce rate and consequently the websites SEO score.
2. A web page that has nothing information, turns out, has nothing for search engines to read and begins to hurt the websites overall ranking.
I’ll be honest, none of that is good. But fear not there is a solution to these problems: the ever beautiful 301 Redirects! So what is a 301 Redirect? A 301 Redirect is a website function that redirects one URL to another, specifically the page you want viewers to see!
Let’s have a quick example: (The text is not linked on purpose. Read on!)
Let’s say this page doesn’t exist and there is a link on Google that shows up. Before a 301 redirect this page was hurting our SEO on our website. So I set up a custom 301 Redirect. No if you click this URL https://www.clickmonster.com/seo-company/washington/bellingham-seo-and-website-design/ it redirects to our home page. Your viewers happy, the business is happy, and Google is happy!
The great thing about 301 Redirects is they increase the quality of the users experience and, in addition, pass between (90-99% of link juice (ranking power) to the redirected page. Think of a 301 Redirect as an opportunity to take something negative and turn it into a positive.
The Take Away
404 Errors hurt your online presence, so get the jump on them before they get the jump on you! Contact us at ClickMonster and we can provide you with a full (and free) audit of your website to see if action is necessary. After the findings we can set up the necessary 301 Redirects as well as a custom 404 Error page!
With ClickMonster on your side your 404’s will soon be 301’d!
Austin Hunt | Local SEO Magician