Surely you have ever browsed a site and come across a 404 error, right? Dealing with a page not found is very frustrating, and you wouldn’t want that to happen to users of your own site.

Even if the impact is almost non-existent on your natural referencing, you must maintain a good user experience, and ensure that Internet users maintain confidence in your site.

This is why it is essential to know how to detect 404 errors, then to correct them.

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What is a 404 error?

A 404 error is often accompanied by the message “Page not found”, and corresponds to an HTTP error code returned by the website server.

In this kind of situation, the Internet user tries to access a page that the server is not able to find: he cannot therefore display any content.

Depending on the browsers, a 404 error can take on different terminologies, for example:

  • 404 Not Found
  • The requested URL was not found in this server
  • HTTP 404
  • HTTP 404 Not Found
  • 404 File or Directory Not Found

Causes of a 404 error

Several situations can lead to a 404 error:

  • The link a user is trying to access has been removed, it no longer exists
  • The link, when entered directly by the user, has a syntax error
  • The link has a redirect, but it was not set up correctly
  • The problem comes from the server, but this is rare

It is very important to solve these 404 errors, because the quality of navigation on your site is an aspect that should not be neglected. As we already mentioned at the beginning of this article, not being able to access a web page is very frustrating. Your visitors may leave your site to go to a competitor to seek the desired content.

Regarding your SEO, it will probably not be impacted. Google is aware that it is difficult to keep an eye on all its links, so it is “normal” that all sites have a number of broken links leading to 404 errors.

On the other hand, too many errors can generate an abnormally high bounce rate and thus have consequences on the behavior of your visitors. In the latter case, your site may be deemed to be of lower quality, thus degrading your visibility on search engines.

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Tools to detect 404 errors

To fix 404 errors, you still need to know where they are.

If you have a Google Search Console account, you can start with this first free tool. By going to “Coverage”, you will see all the errors appearing on your site.

To find 404 errors, you have to take a closer look at the “Details” block.

You can also turn to the free tool Dead Link Checker. Fill in the URL of your site and you will see all the errors. Pages not found are highlighted in red with the message “404 Not Found”.

Dead Link Checker

Finally, SEMRush remains one of the most effective tools. In “Site Audit” you can see 404 errors by clicking on “Broken” in the “Total Score” block.

SEMRush 404 errors

How to fix 404 errors?

Now that you have identified all your broken links, it is time to fix them in order to eliminate as many 404 errors as possible.

Several solutions are available to you :

  • Remove broken link
  • Replace broken link: the new URL must lead to relevant content
  • Perform a 301 redirect if you change the URL: in this case read our guide on this subject

Whatever you do, it is essential to create a personalized 404 error page in parallel. The latter must be in the image of your brand and must contain at least one link (at best your main menu) to bring the lost user back to the home page for example. The idea is to offer a solution to the problem and keep the visitor on your site.

Error 404 Encoder

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