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What is Error 404? How to fix or manage it (website owner)?

What is Error 404? If you have been on the web for a long time, you have certainly come across the 404 Error. Indeed, when you arrive on a page with a message like "This page is not found – 404" or a similar message, surely the page n no longer exists. It is a message returned by a web server when the link you tried to access is not correct or does not exist. In this article, we explain how to fix this type of problem. We will first see how a consumer (or visitor) can handle the problem. Next, we'll explore how a website owner can better direct their visitors.

What is the 404 Error and How does it work on a website?

When you click on a page that does not exist or you made a mistake entering the hyperlink, a page appears with an error message or a personalized message. 404 is an HTTP protocol message that indicates that the link you are trying to access does not exist. Several things can explain such an error. You have a whole Wikipedia article that gives the description.

  1. The website owner has removed the page you are trying to access
  2. You made a mistake on the hyperlink you want to access
  3. The server you are accessing is not working.
  4. The domain name server has a problem.

What is Error 404 for a user and How to better manage it?

If you ever come across a page with the error that displays 404, here are some procedures to follow to solve the problem.

  • Review the spelling of the hyperlink you put in your browser. Sometimes a user makes the mistake while typing the hyperlink in a browser. For this fact, reviewing the spelling will help solve the problem.
  • Search for the page in the website search bar . If you are not able to find the page after having validated the hyperlink, you can make a survey in the search bar of the site. It will simply be a matter of checking if the website has a search bar and entering the name of the page you wish to access. A very effective approach to searching for a website page on Google is to enter the keyword followed by site and a colon the domain name. Below is an example.

Suppose you want to search for WordPress website on Prositeweb website from Google. To do this, simply enter the expression

 WordPress website site:prositeweb.ca

Google will show you all the pages of the prositeweb.ca website with the keywords you want to access. You can then browse through the suggestions and click on the page that interests you.

  • Validate with the website administrator. If the content you are looking for is important, you can contact the website administrator to let them know about the problem. He could easily tell you the cause of the problem.

How to refer users if you delete a page or if they make a mistake?

For a website owner, the 404 error has an impact on the user experience and visibility on the net. Indeed, the more your website refers to error pages, the more customers you lose. This is the reason why when designing your website, you must create a tailor-made page to guide your customers. In this section, we will explain how to proceed. To better manage 404 errors on your website, you should:

  • Create the 404 error page
  • Do a 301 or 302 redirect if you actually deleted the page.

Creation of a page to redirect customers in case of error with status 404

How to create an error page In the event of an error, the visitor will generally see a blank page with a message. For an uninformed person, this message can lead to confusion and even lose you valuable customers. To avoid such disarray, you need to create a custom page. This page should in principle explain to customers the direction to follow. For advanced websites, there is a set of options almost similar to the client search. This speeds up the ability to find information.

How to create a page for the 404 code

Several operating systems allow you to create a 404 file with the extension of the programming language you are using. Then you can do some configuration in the server to point users to this page. In the case of Content Managers or Frameworks, the approach may be different.

Example of creating a 404 error page on a Linux server (cPanel) with CentOS operating system.

If you have a bespoke website that you designed with HTML or PHP (without using a CMS or Framework), you can activate the 404 error page on a server in minutes. We see how to do it. You have two approaches: use server functionality or do it manually.

Using the Server Feature to Create a 404 Error Page

  • Connect to your web server (cPanel)
  • Look for the Error Pages tab
  • Under the title Step 1, select the domain name
  • And, below the title Step 2, Select the 404 (page not found) option.
  • Then you will have access to a code editor where you can add the information you want to display in case of a 404 error.

Once you are done with the changes, you can click save. Then the server will create an error page displayed if a page no longer exists on your website.

How to manually create an error page?

With some knowledge in web programming, you can create an error page. In the case of an Apache web server, you can create a page and use the .htaccess file to specify the page in case of an error. We explain how below. Step 1: Create your error page. You can create an error page with whatever programming language suits you. In this case, you can explore some competitor designs or pages. It is also important to reassure yourself that there is some compliance with your current website. Step 2: Use the .htaccess file to specify the file to display. You can use the code below to specify the message you want to display.

 ErrorDocument 404 /errordocs/404.html

In the syntax, you will notice the link /errordocs/404.html. This is the path to your error code. You can customize according to your need.

Handling the 404 error for a content manager

If you are using a content manager, the approach to creating an error page may be different. Indeed, in the case of CMS like WordPress, the error file is in the main theme directory. You will notice, for example, a 404.php file in your main theme folder. It is practically similar for the majority of CMS or framework. However, we will recommend that you read the documentation to better guide you. If you notice that your theme does not have an error page configured, you can server recommendations from the CMS to create one. Therefore, for WordPress, it will suffice to create a 404.php file and add it to your current theme. In this case, the software will take care of pointing the user in case of need. Below is an example of what a 404 error page might look like in WordPress.

For referencing on Google or Bing, what is Error 404?

a 404 type error has a rather considerable impact on your positioning on search engines. Indeed, when users come across error pages, you also lose potential customers and visibility. We will see below how to avoid this type of problem.

Create a 301 or 302 redirect for the pages you delete.

It is certainly true that sometimes the 404 error is due to a user input error. However, if within your organization you are deleting pages, here are the steps you can take:

  • Make a 301 (permanent) or 302 (temporary) redirect to the page you deleted
  • Change the status from 404 to 410 if you irrevocably deleted the page.
  • Display alternative options to allow visitors to make a choice.
  • Put a search form on the error page.

Conclusion.

To maintain its visibility and credibility, it is important not to neglect the links of the pages that you delete. Therefore, in the event of an error in the spelling of your hyperlink, explicitly specifying to the user that there may be an error can allow better orientation. Thank you for reading our article " What is Error 404" in case of questions, it would be a pleasure to hear from you in comment . You can also contact us if you need assistance in better configuring or improving your 404 error page.

Find out the difference between error code 404 and 410

Do you want to know the difference between error code 404 and 410? In this article, we tell you what it is and make a comparison. In the jargon of the web, there are several codes among which the codes 404 and 410. It is therefore very important to understand the difference between these two errors in order to know how to use them. 404 and 410 status errors should specify that a page no longer exists. However, the 410 status is for pages that you have deleted and do not intend to recreate. On the other hand, you can use 404 to specify that a page is not available. In the latter case, it could be a typo or a page you intend to recreate later. The purpose of this article is to examine how search engines deal with the two error statuses. We will also see how you can configure them on your website. Finally, we'll talk about the advantages of using one over the other.

What is a 410 error page and how do I set it up?

The 410 error page specifies that a page is gone forever, it no longer exists. In other words, if you have a page that will no longer exist, you can use 410 error pages. The 410 error page must specify that a page is irrevocably deleted and will not come back. I probably recommend the 410 error page to e-commerce businesses or companies that run websites with continually changing URLs. The configuration of 410 Gone pages may vary depending on the server you have. If you host your website on a server that manages the .htaccess file, you can configure your 410 Disappeared pages with the following code: You must add this small code to your .htaccess file.

 Redirect gone /path/to/folder/ ErrorDocument 410 default(or 410 file)

In the code above, "/path/to/folder/" represents the folder or absolute URL that you permanently deleted. For example, if you deleted the “web development” page, which is like https://www.prositeweb.ca/services/site-web/, you can replace the /path/to/folder/ with /website-development . In addition, the "default" of the second line will display the following message:

 Gone

The requested resource / website development is no longer available on this server, and there is no redirect address. Please remove any reference to this resource. As you can see, the message is not formatted or uniform for your website. With a little customization and styling, you can create a great 410.php(.html or whatever) page. Once you've done that, instead of "default" in the second line, you can add the path to the page you created.

What is a 404 error page and how do I set it up?

I believe most of us are used to 404 error pages, as you may have seen once or twice on a website. It simply indicates that a page is not available. There are many options when a page is redirected to a 404 page not found:

  • The page may no longer exist.
  • Surely you added the wrong URL to the anchor.
  • The website administrator may have temporarily removed the page.

It is also essential to configure the 404 error page so that your visitors do not come across a blank page when an error has occurred. For the 404 error page, many CMS already have an easy way that users can use. For example, if you are using WordPress, you should create a 404.php file and add it to your template. To use the .htaccess file to configure your 404 error page, add this code to your .htaccess file (CMSs may have different approaches).

 ErrorDocument 404 /errordocs/404.html

In this line of code, 404.html represents the information that will be displayed if your visitors come across a page that cannot be found.

How do search engines like Google treat 404 or 410 pages?

According to John Mueller , who is the Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, Google handles 410 and 404 error pages the same way. This is an excerpt from advice he gave on how to handle 404 and 410 statuses. The block in the article below is from Search Engine Journal: "If a 404 error goes to a page that doesn't exist, should I give them 410 status?" John Mueller replied, "From our perspective, in the medium/long term, 404 is the same as a 410 for us. So in both of those cases, we're removing those URLs from our index. We generally reduce the crawling of these URLs so that we don't spend too much time exploring things we know don't exist.The subtle difference here is that a 410 will sometimes drop a little faster than a 404. on the order of a few days or so. So if you remove the content naturally, you can use one or the other perfectly well. If you already deleted this content a long time ago, it is not indexed yet, so it doesn't matter to us whether you use a 404 or a 410".

Conclusion

If you intend to delete a page permanently, you can use the 410 error page. This can reduce the number of crawls of these pages a little. For pages that you temporarily delete, the 404 page is probably the best solution. Thank you for reading this article. If you have any questions or need help setting up your 410 error page, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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