How to Handle 404 Page Errors

Posted on Jul 25 2014 by Rob C. in Blog Blogs and Blogging 

Almost nothing will turn visitors away from your website quicker than a 404 page not found error. When a user clicks on a link, they want to be taken to a specific page. Every WordPress user will have a different technique for dealing with 404 errors from broken links. If you are new to WordPress or have not had to deal with broken links yet, then read more about how to properly deal with a 404 page not found error in your WordPress website.

Understanding 404 Page Errors
What is a 404 error? When a webpage is not found, whether it has been deleted or moved to another directory, visitors are presented with a generic webpage that informs them that the page they are looking for could not be found. This is frustrating for visitors, so fixing this problem should be one of your top WordPress priorities.
First, you will need to decide on how you want to solve the issue. You can have all 404 errors redirect the visitor back to your homepage or find each broken link and redirect the old URL to another page. Redirecting back to your homepage is the quick solution, while fixing broken links may require some time and effort. In the long run, fixing broken links is better for the search engine optimization of your WordPress site and will provide a better user experience.

Redirecting Back to the Homepage
The All 404 Redirect to Homepage WordPress plugin will fix all of your 404 errors by redirecting users back to your homepage. Using a 301 redirection, this plugin will help limit the number of 404 errors that search engines encounter. The only problem with using this plugin is that users may be confused or disappointed. When they click on a broken link, there is no message that the page was not found, they are simply redirected back to the homepage.

Fixing Broken Links
From an SEO perspective, you should eventually take care of broken links. Using a WordPress plugin such as the 404 Redirected plugin you can find all of your broken links. From your admin panel, you can see all 404 URLs. From there you can easily create 301 and 302 redirects to the correct page. This plugin can also create a custom 404 page with a list of suggested pages based on the URL of the page the user was looking for.
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Creating a Custom 404 Page
Having a custom 404 error page may be enough to keep visitors that come across a broken link. Instead of redirecting back to your homepage or to another URL, users are presented with a custom 404 error page that informs them the page they are looking for is not found. Most WordPress themes will have their own template for 404 error pages. This will often include search options, post links, archives, blog rolls, or other forms of navigation to help users find the content they are looking for. If you do not like the look of the default 404 error page, you can create or edit your own, using a Custom Error Page plugin.

Improve the user experience of your WordPress site by deciding how you want to handle 404 page errors. Do not leave your visitors in the dark. Either fix your broken links or redirect your 404 page errors to your homepage, using one of several different WordPress plugins.