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404 Errors vs 301 Redirects: What is Important for Your Website? 404 Errors vs 301 Redirects: What is Important for Your Website?

404 Errors vs 301 Redirects: What is Important for Your Website?

What is a 404 error? In this article, we explain what it is and give you a guide to use it better.

404 errors are quite common online. Indeed, if you have been on the Internet long enough, you have certainly already seen the 404 error appear on a website. This error appears for several reasons:

  • An entry error when creating a page and sharing a different link: you can, for example, have a page such as url/our-services and inadvertently share url/services. Therefore, the user will go to a page that does not exist.
  • The page is no longer relevant to your business: you create a page for a specific purpose and then decide to delete it.
  • The user makes the mistake on the link he wants to access.
  • etc.

In this article, we will see together how to better organize links on a website. We will also see why it is important and what the impacts of broken links are on your online positioning.

What are 404 Errors?

A 404 error indicates that the server could not find the requested page. This can happen if a page has been deleted or the URL has changed without proper redirection.

What are the Implications for your website?

When a visitor comes across the 404 page, there can be several implications, including:

Poor User Experience (UX)

Experiencing a 404 error can frustrate users, potentially leading them to leave your site.

SEO

Search engines like Google will eventually remove pages that consistently return 404 errors from their index. Some 404s won't hurt your site's SEO. However, a large number, especially those linked from external sites, can indicate to search engines that your site is poorly maintained.

Site maintenance

404 errors can highlight problems in site management, like broken links or incorrectly deleted pages.

301 redirects

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. It tells users and search engines that the page has been irrevocably moved to a new location. Implications for your website:

  1. User Experience (UX): When implemented correctly, 301 redirects provide a smooth user experience by automatically taking the user to the correct or new page.
  2. SEO: A 301 redirect helps transfer most of the link authority (or “link juice”) from the old URL to the new one. If you've changed your URL or restructured your site, using 301 redirects can help maintain the old page's search rankings. Without them, you risk starting from scratch in terms of page authority.
  3. Site Maintenance: 301 redirects can be problematic if chained excessively. This can slow page load times and confuse search engines.

What is more important?

Both have their place in running a website, and neither should be ignored:

  1. For user experience: Prioritize fixing 404 errors to ensure users can access the content they are looking for. Use 301 redirects when moving or deleting content to guide users to the right place.
  2. For SEO: Both are essential. 404 errors can indicate a poorly maintained site, and not using 301 redirects can result in a loss of page authority and rankings. Regularly audit your site for broken links and ensure any edited or deleted content has appropriate 301 redirects.
  3. For site maintenance: monitor your redirects to make sure they don't create chains or confusion. Constantly review and update your site structure to ensure that users and search engines can easily navigate and understand it.

In conclusion, 404 errors and 301 redirects both play an important role in the overall health and effectiveness of a website. Continuously monitor your site to manage and address both appropriately.

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