Strategy

“404 Page Not Found” – everything you need to know

If your 404 is not correct, you can lose lots of traffic on your website. So, read this to know more about “404 Page Not Found” and fix it.

Before we dive into the “404 Page Not Found” status code, let’s try to know a little bit about web protocol basics and how they affect all 400 errors. The Internet is made up really of two core things. One. Clients and two servers. So, clients are your browser. Maybe it’s Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or if you are a person who likes challenges, it’s perhaps internet explorer.

Before we start, one suggestions – A clean and comfortable to scan website always helps to grow your business. You can know about this in detail in our “Essential Website Features” article. You may check this out. 

Okay, lets dive into our main topic.

What is HTTP Protocol?

When you are usually accessing the Internet through one of these clients, you are generally making a request from a web server. You make a request, and the server responds. That’s happening every single time you’re clicking a link. You make this request using what we call the HTTP protocol.

So protocols are really just standards that everyone on the Internet has agreed. It’s a well-constructed language that we all have agreed to write. And both clients and server follow these protocols.

Status Codes

So a client makes a request to the server, what happens next? Status codes let us know whether the request was a success a failure or something in between. That is what an HTTP status code. 

So let’s jump into each one of these.

  • 1xx – Informational requests
  • 2xx – Successful requests
  • 3xx – Redirection
  • 4xx – Client Errors
  • 5xx-  Server Errors

4xx blocks (such as 400, 403, 404, 405 etc errors) are for client errors. That means the page was not found, or something is wrong with the request. So whatever is happening on the client-side is the issue under the 4xx.

So, a 400 means a Bad Request a 402 means Payment Required a 403 means Forbidden a 404 means Not Found and it goes on till 426 error code. The basic idea here is that any status code that comes in as a 4xx is a client error.

HTTP Status Code 404 – Not Found

You’ve probably seen this a lot out there on the Internet. It is because the URL being requested by the clients was not found on the server. Developers are getting creative for 404 pages nowadays for a better user experience. Here are some error page examples.

Github's 404 Page Not Found example
Github’s 404 page example.
Amazon's 404 Page Not Found example
Amazon’s 404 page example.

As we can see, companies like Github and Amazon have a very creative and interactive 404 Error page for engaging user experience.

Misconceptions about 404-page error

It’s not true that all 404 errors are bad. It is actually a common misconception a lot of people have. You must serve a 404 page for your user. So if a user mistyped a URL or you know something else happens, your user will see that page.

A lot of people get this crazy idea that they can’t have any 404s on their website. It’s not true. It is absolutely okay to serve a 404 error if the URL is bad or mistyped. In fact, it gives the user a true guide to the right path. Which eventually increases the user experience.

Another misconception is if your page has any 404, Google cannot rank your page on the searches. But that is also wrong. The real scenario is kind of the opposite. If that page had never existed before, Google would also be okay with that. Google is not going to penalize you for serving a 404. And, 404 page serves a good user experience. And Google crawling system always prefers websites with good user experience.

Bad 404 Page

But not all 404 are good also. An authoritative page with many links that used to have contents, but showing 404 is not right. In simple words, if you used to have a page with content, but now it is empty or broken will server a 404 error. And, that’s what upsets the Google. These kinds of links are misleading to the users, and Google usually ignores these pages in the crawling mechanism.

How to fix 404 error

Generally, fix for this kind of error is to redirect old pages with a lot of old link equity to some other page. One common practice to redirect to the home page. But it would be best to redirect that broken or empty link to the most similar page you have.

Recreating the page is another option, if you found the broken link. Put it on to a new URL if needed and redirect it to the new link. However, if you have old legacy pages with a lot of link value, or has a ton of links from external sites. You generally want to implement 301 redirects to save that link equity.

The other option is to make a beautiful 404 error pages. So, when a user renders a page and gets a 404, that “404 Page Not Found” page will give users many different options.

Dribble's 404 Page Not Found example
Dribble’s 404 page example.
Lego's 404 Page Not Found example
Lego’s 404 page example

As we can see, Dribbble gives an interactive and playful 404 Error page. On the other hand, Lego picked the amusing option.

Or you can set up a message like “Sorry that page can’t be found, but here are some of our best pages” or something like that. 

Conclusion

There you have it all now. These are all kinds of ways you can solve the 404 error without having any kind issues. In the end, the basic idea here, you don’t always have to remove or redirect “404 Page Not Found” errors. If you are conscious and understand what kind of 404 you are getting, we hope you can deal with it like a pro.