You know the page: You click on a link, but an error shows that the requested page is not available instead of the site you want. Something along’ 404 Not Found’ lines. The standard HTTP status code is a 404 error. The message is sent to the web browser (usually the client) that sent the HTTP request from the online presence web server. This error code is displayed by the browser.
We have collected error message information and will show you how to create your own 404 pages.
How Does a ‘404 Error’ Come About?
The typical trigger for a 404 error message is the removal or transfer of website content to another URL. There are also other reasons why there may be an error message. Including:
- The URL or its contents (such as files or images) have either been deleted or moved (without adjusting internal links).
- The URL was incorrectly written (during the creation process or redesign), incorrectly linked or incorrectly entered into the browser
- The website’s server is not running or the link is broken
- A domain name system (DNS) cannot convert the requested domain name to an IP.
- The domain name entered does not exist (more)
Dead links are often left for a long time since operators do not know that the linked content has been deleted or moved. Many websites still appear on the search engine results pages (SERPs), even if they are no longer available online (or at least not at the given URL). Other linked websites such as blogs, news portals, etc. are often not informed that the website has been removed or is now available under a new URL. Many website operators do not regularly check their external links, so a working link can easily become dead.
How to Fix the Error ‘404 Not Found’
Rarely is a 404 error a reason to celebrate. The visitors to the website did not find the content they were looking for at the end of the day. The appearance of a 404 page does not necessarily mean, however, that the information requested is not available. In many cases, it is easy to find the solution to the original error and the visitor can be quickly sent to the web page they were originally looking for. So how exactly can you fix the 404 error? Our advice is to try these possible solutions (in the order they are listed):
- Reload the page: For the simple reason that the page did not load properly, the 404 error may have appeared. You can easily check this by clicking on the button ‘Refresh’ in your browser or by pressing the F5 button.
- Check the URL: Whether you entered the URL manually or were sent via a link, a mistake may have occurred. You should, therefore, check the specified website path. Either you or the person who entered the link could be mistaken. In addition to spelling errors, forward slashes could also be left out or misplaced. But remember that this can only be checked with “clean” URLs because they contain unreadable words instead of incomprehensible abbreviations, letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Go back to the level of the directory: For example, if the URL of the following example.com / Directory1 / Directory2 / Directory3 causes a 404 error page, you can always go back to the previous level of the directory (in this example: Example.com / Directory1 / Directory2) to see if the page is linked. Clear the last directory in the URL is all you need to do. You should see the link for the page you are looking for on the previous page. If you can’t find it on this page, you can also go back to the previous page and find the right link. But if this method is also successful and you end up on the homepage, then move on to the next tip.
- Use the search function of the website: As part of your homepage, many websites offer a search function. You can find the specific page you are looking for by entering one or more keywords.
- Use a search engine: You can also use your selected website to find a website. You should be able to find the desired website by entering the website domain and/or a keyword transcription of the subject.
- Delete the cache and cookies of the browser: If you can access the website from another device and the HTTP 404 error appears only on a certain computer, your browser may have a problem. You should, therefore, delete the browser cache and all cookies for this website, so that you can finally access the page.
- Contact the website: If none of the above tips have been successful, contacting the person/people responsible for the website may be the only remaining option. Contact information can usually be found on the masthead of the website or on a specific page. The website operators should be able to provide information about the actual existence of the page you are looking for. It may be that the page in question has been moved to a new URL, and you will give the website operator a great favor in this scenario. You can then fix a 404 error by introducing a domain redirect that directs users from the old web page to the current one automatically.
HTTP 404 Errors Can Damage a Website’s Ranking & Reputation
If there are many 404 errors, search engines like Google and Bing will have a negative impression of a site. Once the crawlers have found that 404 codes meet many requests, it assumes that the site is not well maintained. Dead links affect the ranking of a site, and if too many 404 error pages occur, Google can reduce its placement in SERPs or even stop indexing it. This can lead to a significant reduction in the number of visitors to the website.
If it is full of broken links or if the landing page (the page accessed from the search engine results) is dead, the visitor loses confidence in the site. If the site regularly experiences this problem, many users will not find it difficult to continue searching because they are not even sure if the desired content is still available.
Identifying 404 Errors on your Own Website
Preventing HTTP 404 pages is important for website operators. This applies to internal 404 error pages and external 404 error pages on other websites. Many free tools are available to help you more easily find these broken links. Three of the best and most famous are:
- Google Search Console (formerly known as “Google Webmaster Tools”): If you already have a Google account and have registered your website, Google Search Console should be used. The web tool displays all 404 errors found by the Google crawler and can also be marked here as corrected. Additional functions allow you to detect errors in robots.txt files and use crawling statistics to determine how often Google crawlers have crawled your site.
- Dead Link Checker: The Dead Link Checker is one of the simplest and fastest tools to find 404 pages linked internally and externally. Simply enter the URL of the website you want to check with this web app and then start the check. You can check a single web page or an entire site here. The app lists all pages with status codes and URL tracked errors.
- W3C Link Checker: This World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) online tool is particularly detailed when testing individual websites, so it takes longer to verify links than other websites. The W3C Link Checker functions just like the Dead Link Checker: Enter the URL and let the tool do the rest. Further details can also be added
Creating a 404 error page
Some content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal automatically generate a 404 error page if the URL of a website is not available. The HTTP 404 page is a simple standard error message, but most can be customized with special CMS extensions.
If your CMS does not give you the option to create or change your 404 pages, or if your website is based solely on HTML, PHP, etc. You can create the following error page:
- Create an error page (‘404.html‘ or ‘404.php‘) in the root directory (if there isn’t an existing one already).
- Open the.htaccess file in the root directory (or create one if necessary), enter it in “ErrorDocument 404 / 404.html” and save the change. This code will generate the error page.
- To see if it’s worked, try to access an unavailable webpage and hopefully the error 404 messages should appear in the browser.
Also Read:- Fix Windows Error Code 36
Why Should you Personalize your 404 Error Page?
It is better to have a standard 404 error page than none at all, although for several reasons a customized page is preferred. On the one hand, you can be sure that visitors receive an exact HTTP status code: For example, if the requested content is no longer on the site, the message “410 Gone” should be sent. The visitor then knows that this content has been deleted permanently.
On the other hand, you can provide a specially designed error page with related links (i.e. links to your homepage or subpages where the content overlaps with the content originally requested by the visitor). You can even add a website search function. You may be able to prevent visitors from leaving your site immediately after seeing the 404 code by taking these additional measures and providing incentives.
You may even find visitors more forgiving with a creative 404 message. They will, of course, be disappointed not to find the promised content, but an original or funny 404 page could make it up. If done properly, there is some potential for error pages.
Make sure the error message design matches your website style and you have the basis for a good 404 error page. If you let visitors know that your content is not available in a funny and light-hearted way, hopefully, you’ll get a smile from them and they won’t have a grudge. See our article on cool and creative 404 pages for inspiration.