If doing 301 redirects is part of your job description, 404s are usually the bane of your existence. They can haunt your dreams and force you to wake in the dead of night drenched in a cold sweat. In relation to SEO, 404s can be a big no-no if you have too many on your website. But don’t fret, we’re here to help and explain how you can get rid of them.

If you have created a new website it’s important to understand what 404s are and how they can have detrimental effects for your site if they are not fixed properly.

 What are 404s?

A 404 error is when a page you are looking for cannot be found. This may be because the link is dead or broken or the server that is hosting the website cannot find the webpage.

They are one of the most common errors found on a website and can affect the user’s experience in a negative way.

 What causes 404s?

404s sometimes occur when you have changed the link structure of a website or removed a permalink.

If you decide to edit your link structure, people may come across 404s if you haven’t redirected your links to new pages. If someone comes across a link to your website on Facebook and you’ve recently changed the URL without introducing a 301 redirect, they will come face to face with a 404.

 How to find 404s

One way you can find them is by using Google’s Search Console (originally Webmaster Tools). This is a free service which allows you to manage your website. To find 404 errors on Search Console you must enter the Dashboard, click Crawl Errors and then go to option Not Found.

You can also use Bing Webmaster tools to search for 404 errors. To find them using this tool you should go to Reports, then Data and click on the Crawl Information tab.

 How to Fix 404 Errors

Once you have identified your 404 errors you have a few options available on how to deal with them.

  • Manually update your links
  • If there are links to your website on other websites you can ask them to update the link
  • Via Search Console you can de-index the old pages
  • You can do 301 redirects which means you can redirect links which go to 404 pages to more relevant pages

Having lots of 404 pages on your website isn’t good for SEO so it’s important to check your links are going to the relevant pages.

We recommend creating useful 404 pages where you can share links to popular content and services so if people do come across a 404 page they aren’t left annoyed and frustrated, they can simply click on a link you have made available.