The 404 page not found error is a common error that affects the SEO performance of the website and the user experience. Fortunately, you can redirect error 404 with redirection plugins. In this article, we will help you understand what is error 404 and suggest you 6 best free error 404 redirect plugins for WordPress platform.
What is Error 404 in Details and Why Does Your WP Site Get It?
To fix the error 404, you need to know why WordPress is giving this error.
Error 404 is one of the common WordPress errors that new users often encounter. WordPress uses SEO friendly URLs. If you change the URL structure, it will change the entire link structure of the website. This is why your site is showing 404 errors even on existing articles. Another common cause of 404 errors is missing or corrupted .htaccess file content. If you have installed a new plugin, created a new custom post or registered a custom taxonomy, accessing the new URL may cause a 404 error because your .htaccess file is not updated. This is just one of many reasons why content shows a 404 error.
Fix 404 Error in WordPress With Simple Tips
You can fix 404 errors in WordPress by removing permalinks. You just need to go to Settings » Permalinks in WordPress admin area, click save changes without making any changes.
WordPress will automatically update the .htaccess file. You need to check your site to make sure the 404 error is fixed. If it doesn’t update automatically then your .htaccess file is not writable and you need to update it manually. We have detailed instructions on how to fix WP posts that return 404 errors.
Other Causes of 404 Errors in WordPress
In addition to the above cause, there are many other reasons why your WordPress site is showing 404 error. For example, if you recently switched from WordPress.com to WordPress.org or changed your domain name, it can also cause your website to show up. 404 error display.
For the above two cases, you need to fix the permalink structure to handle 404 errors.
If you delete a post on or page, a 404 not found error page error will appear.
The best way to fix this is to redirect the user to a new location. You should also notify search engines of the new location of posts and pages by adding a 301 redirect message.
This allows you to provide a great user experience and not lose search engine rankings.
Take a look at some of the most popular 404 redirect plugins for WordPress that can help you fix and manage these issues.
Redirection is a powerful WordPress plugin that allows you to easily setup redirects for 404 pages. This plugin has a built-in option that tracks 404 errors occurring on your website.
Redirection allows you to use regex that match URL patterns and redirect them to the appropriate pages. This is quite beneficial for you if you have moved a website with a different URL structure to WordPress.
TinoHost has a complete guide on how to track 404 pages and redirect them in WordPress using the Redirection plugin.
While this plugin is ideal, you need to be careful with 404 logging settings. If not installed correctly this plugin can overload the database. This is the most powerful plugin available today that allows you to use it for free.
2. SEO Redirection Plugin
SEO Redirection plugin is a simple interface plugin to track 404 errors and manage your redirects.
This plugin also keeps a log of 404 errors on your WordPress site so you can fix those errors.
The plugin creates a new table in the WordPress database to store your redirects. In addition, this plugin keeps a history of all the redirects on your site.
3. All 404 Redirect to Homepage
This simple plugin redirects 404 errors to the homepage of your WP site.
Just add this code at the top of your 404.php theme file:
"HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently"
For more information, see TinoHost’s guide on how to redirect your 404 page to the homepage in WordPress.
4. 410 for WordPress
This plugin redirects 404 errors to page 410. Instead of redirecting users from 404 errors to some other page on your site, this plugin sends them to an error page called 410.
The HTTP Specification defines the 410 response header to be used when the resource has been permanently deleted. This is also useful for search engines that are not instructed to ignore this URL and stop trying to access it.
301 redirects are supposed to be used when a piece of content has been moved to a new location. However, if you’ve removed a lot of content on your site, adding a 301 redirect won’t help your SEO.
In addition, 410 prevents search engines from repeatedly requesting the URL. This plugin is also very useful when you are trying to recover from a search engine spam penalty by removing duplicate or low quality content.
You can add a 410.php file to your WordPress theme and the plugin will use that file to display error messages to your users.
404 error pages in WordPress themes are often quite tedious and unhelpful. There are a few tips that you can use to improve your 404 template in WordPress.
However, these tips require you to use code snippets and edit the template.
The 404page plugin allows you to select an existing page from your WordPress site and use it as a 404 page.
6. Forty Four – 404 Plugin for WordPress
The Forty Four plugin helps you replace your theme’s default 404 page with a custom page. This plugin has an easy to use interface for you to edit 404 pages, set full screen background, change its color and text.
The Forty Four plugin also allows you to keep a 404 error log on your site. You can also set up 301 redirects for each URL leading to 404 by editing them in the logs.
Impact and Implications
The occurrence of Error 404 can have significant consequences and implications for both users and website owners. Let’s delve into the impact this error message has and the implications it carries for the digital landscape.
User Experience and Frustration Caused by Error 404
When users encounter Error 404, it can be a frustrating experience that disrupts their browsing journey. This error indicates that the requested webpage cannot be found, leading to disappointment and a sense of being let down. Users may feel confused, especially if they were expecting to find specific information or access certain resources. The lack of guidance or alternative options on the error page can further exacerbate their frustration, making it more challenging for them to navigate and find what they need.
Potential Consequences for Businesses and Websites
For businesses and website owners, the impact of Error 404 goes beyond just user dissatisfaction. It can have adverse effects on various aspects of their online presence and operations. Here are some key consequences:
- Lost Opportunities: When visitors encounter Error 404 on a business website, it means they are unable to access the content or services they were seeking. This can lead to missed opportunities for engagement, conversion, and potential revenue generation. Users may abandon the website altogether, opting for a competitor that offers a smoother browsing experience.
- Negative Brand Perception: Consistently encountering Error 404 pages can tarnish a brand’s image and reputation. Users may associate the error with a lack of professionalism or carelessness on the part of the website owner. This negative perception can impact user trust and loyalty, ultimately harming the overall brand value.
- SEO and Rankings: Error 404 can negatively affect a website’s search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. When search engine crawlers encounter broken links or missing pages, it can impact the website’s indexation and ranking. Lower visibility in search results translates to reduced organic traffic, hindering the website’s ability to reach its target audience effectively.
Importance of Effective Error Handling and User-Friendly Design
Given the potential impact of Error 404, it becomes crucial for businesses and website owners to prioritize effective error handling and user-friendly design. Here’s why:
- Retaining Users and Enhancing User Experience: By providing helpful and informative error messages, website owners can alleviate user frustration and guide them back on track. Customized error pages with clear instructions, suggestions for alternative content, and a friendly tone can make users feel valued and encouraged to explore further. Effective error handling contributes to a positive user experience, boosting engagement and reducing the risk of losing potential customers.
- Reputation Management: Well-handled error situations demonstrate a website owner’s professionalism and commitment to user satisfaction. By promptly addressing and rectifying broken links or missing content, businesses can showcase their dedication to providing a seamless browsing experience. This can help build a positive reputation and foster trust among users, leading to increased brand loyalty and word-of-mouth recommendations.
- SEO and Website Performance: Regularly monitoring and resolving Error 404 instances helps maintain a healthy website structure and optimized user flow. By minimizing broken links and swiftly redirecting users to relevant content, businesses can improve their SEO efforts, enhance search engine rankings, and attract organic traffic. A well-optimized website with fewer error instances also ensures smoother website performance, reducing the likelihood of user frustration and abandonment.
Resolving Error 404
Encountering Error 404 can be frustrating, but there are steps that both users and website owners can take to resolve this issue. Let’s explore the different approaches and techniques for effectively addressing Error 404.
Basic Troubleshooting Steps for Users
- Refresh the Page: Sometimes, Error 404 can occur due to temporary issues or glitches. Simply refreshing the page can often resolve the problem, as it prompts the browser to attempt loading the page again.
- Double-Check the URL: Users should carefully examine the URL they entered to ensure there are no typos or errors. A small mistake, such as an extra letter or missing hyphen, can result in Error 404. Verifying the accuracy of the URL is a quick and easy step that can save time and frustration.
- Clear Browser Cache: Caches store temporary data, including outdated information about websites. Clearing the browser cache can help resolve Error 404 by ensuring that the browser fetches the most up-to-date version of the requested webpage from the server.
Webmaster’s Role in Resolving Error 404
- Error Monitoring and Reporting: Website owners should implement tools or plugins that monitor for broken links and missing pages, alerting them whenever Error 404 occurs. This enables swift action and prevents prolonged periods of inaccessible content.
- Redirects and URL Mapping: Webmasters can set up redirects to guide users who encounter Error 404 to relevant content or alternative pages. Permanent redirects (301) are suitable for permanently moved pages, while temporary redirects (302) are ideal for temporarily unavailable pages. Additionally, implementing URL mapping allows webmasters to redirect outdated or changed URLs to new ones, minimizing the occurrence of Error 404.
- Custom Error Pages: Creating custom error pages enhances user experience and provides helpful information when Error 404 is encountered. Webmasters can design error pages that not only apologize for the inconvenience but also provide clear navigation options, search functionality, or links to popular content to guide users back into the website’s ecosystem.
Advanced Techniques and Tools for Identifying and Fixing Broken Links
- Broken Link Checkers: Webmasters can employ online tools or plugins that scan websites for broken links, including Error 404 instances. These tools provide comprehensive reports, highlighting the specific broken links and their locations. By regularly checking and fixing broken links, website owners can prevent users from encountering Error 404 and ensure a smooth browsing experience.
- 301 Redirects: If a webpage has been permanently removed or replaced, implementing a 301 redirect ensures that users are automatically redirected to a relevant page. This not only resolves Error 404 but also helps maintain SEO value by transferring link juice and preserving search engine rankings.
- Custom 404 Error Tracking: Webmasters can set up tracking mechanisms to collect data on Error 404 occurrences, including the referring pages and the frequency of such errors. This information can be used to identify patterns and prioritize the resolution of high-impact or frequently encountered Error 404 instances.
Resolving Error 404 requires a combination of user actions and proactive measures by website owners. By following basic troubleshooting steps, users can often resolve the error themselves. Simultaneously, webmasters play a crucial role in monitoring, redirecting, and customizing error pages to ensure a seamless browsing experience. Utilizing advanced techniques and tools, such as broken link checkers and redirects, empowers website owners to identify and fix broken links, minimizing the occurrence of Error 404 and enhancing overall website performance.
Best Practices for Error Handling
Ensuring effective error handling is crucial for providing a seamless user experience and mitigating the impact of Error 404. By following best practices, both users and website owners can navigate through error situations with ease. Let’s explore some key guidelines for handling errors in a user-friendly and efficient manner.
Importance of Proactive Error Management
- Error Prevention: The best way to handle errors is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Conduct regular website maintenance and testing to identify and fix potential issues before they impact users. Pay close attention to broken links, outdated URLs, and server errors, addressing them promptly to minimize the occurrence of Error 404.
- User-Centric Design: Prioritize user-centric design when creating error pages. Ensure they are visually appealing, consistent with the overall website design, and reflect the brand’s tone and personality. Use clear and concise language, avoiding technical jargon, to communicate the error and provide guidance for the user.
Customization and Branding of Error Pages
- Informative Error Messages: Craft error messages that provide meaningful information to users. Instead of simply stating “Error 404 – Page Not Found,” include additional details that guide users on what might have gone wrong and offer suggestions for their next steps. For example, provide links to popular pages, a search bar, or relevant categories to help users find the content they are looking for.
- Consistent Branding: Maintain consistent branding across all error pages to reinforce brand recognition and familiarity. Use the same color scheme, fonts, and logo as the main website, ensuring a seamless transition between the error page and the rest of the site. This helps users feel reassured that they are still within the same trusted online environment.
Recommendations for Effective Error Handling
- Clear Navigation Options: Present users with clear and intuitive navigation options on error pages. Include prominent buttons or links that allow users to return to the homepage, perform a site search, or explore popular sections of the website. This empowers users to continue their journey and find the desired content, minimizing frustration and encouraging further engagement.
- Helpful Instructions: Provide step-by-step instructions on how users can resolve the error or find an alternative solution. For example, if a specific page has been permanently removed, direct users to a relevant page or suggest contacting customer support for further assistance. By offering actionable guidance, you empower users to take the necessary steps to overcome the error.
- Contact and Support Information: Make it easy for users to contact support or customer service if they require assistance. Display contact information, such as email addresses or phone numbers, prominently on the error page. Additionally, consider integrating live chat or chatbot functionality to provide immediate support and address user concerns promptly.
- Ongoing Error Monitoring: Continuously monitor website logs and error reports to identify recurring errors and address them proactively. Regularly reviewing error analytics helps webmasters gain insights into user behavior, identify patterns, and make data-driven improvements to prevent future errors.
We hope this article helped you clarify what is error 404 and found the best free 404 plugins for your WP site. You may also want to check out these 404 error page designs on WordPress for inspiration. Please feel free to give us a vote on our site if you like this article or give us comments for your idea.