How to fix Error (404) Not found

Time to read
0 minutes


How to fix Error (404) Not found

A 404 error, also known as a page not found error, is an HTTP status code that indicates the browser was able to communicate with the server, but the server could not find the requested page. This section explains the common causes behind 404 errors, their impact on your website and user experience, and quick ways to fix it.

A (hard) 404 is a page that cannot be found on the server and the user is shown an error message.

Quick ways to fix Error 404

When a user encounters a 404 error page, it indicates that the webpage they are trying to reach cannot be found on the server.

Here are 4 quick ways to fix the 404 error to improve user experience and maintain the site’s SEO ranking;

1. Redirect Error 404 to a relevant existing page

One of the most common fixes is to set up a redirect. For old pages, It’s not uncommon that it still receives traffic even when it’s no longer exist. This could be due to external sites or blog posts linking to these pages. 

Rather than serving a 404 error message to these visitors, which contributes to a poor user experience and wastes your site’s link equity, it’s better practice to redirect them to a different page that is still existing and relevant,

2. Remove any 404 pages from your sitemap

You can delete the page if you really do not want it anymore and remove all internal links to it. If users typically only find the page through your internal links (links from your own website), you can remove the link. 

You should also ensure that these 404 pages are removed from your sitemap to prevent search engines bot from accessing them.

Keeping your sitemap free of 404 errors also streamlines the crawling of search engine bots and reinforces the integrity of your website’s structure.

3. Mark 404 Pages as ‘No Index’ Instead of Deleting

Websites like job portals or e-commerce platforms that have temporary listings can encounter more 404 error code as pages are usually removed when a job posting becomes inactive or a product is out of stock.

If the page is simply deleted, site visitors but also the Googlebot run into a 404 error. Instead of deleting the pages, they should be marked as ‘no index’ first to indicate to the bot that the page doesn’t need to be indexed. At a later time, you can simply redirect the page to a new relevant destination on your domain.

4. Customizing the 404 Page

404 pages can never be totally avoided. Life is unpredictable after all. To make the most out of this uncertainty of the human condition, you can provide a custom 404 page. This 404 Page can also be a brand opportunity if done right.   

A custom 404 page captures the users the intent and pitches them to explore related content on the website. For example, if your is broken, a custom 404 page can include a pitch to shop more on a more general product page

custom 404 page provides a better user experience and can guide lost visitors to relevant content on the site. This page should include links to the homepage, search feature, and popular content. Check out a few creative examples from various brands below;

Custom 404 page links to the homepage

amazon error page

Screenshot from Amazon, April 2024’s error 404 page has a unique touch: Besides linking it to the homepage, allowing visitors to easily navigate back to Amazon’s main site and continue browsing. It also features a picture of a dog with the message “Meet the dogs of Amazon.” This playful design offers a lighthearted approach to a typical “Page Not Found” scenario, making it less frustrating for users. This clever use of dog imagery and a simple redirection helps keep the user experience positive, even when a page isn’t found.

Custom 404 page links to an app download


Screenshot from 9gag, April 2024

9GAG’s error page takes a different approach, guiding users toward their mobile app. This strategy not only helps recover from the “Page Not Found” scenario but also serves as a subtle promotion for their mobile app. By offering an alternative platform to explore, 9GAG keeps visitors engaged and possibly increases app downloads, turning a potential dead end into an opportunity.

Custom 404 page links to blog page or social media handles

discord 404

Screenshot from Discord, April 2024

When you hit a 404 error page on Discord, you’re not left stranded. Discord’s playful design of a hot noodles food vendor and creatively disguising useful links as reading material, giving you alternative routes to navigate the site. It also includes links to follow Discord on social media, turning a frustrating “Page Not Found” into an opportunity to discover new content and stay engaged with the community.

Most common causes of a 404 page not found

Typically, 404 errors occur when:

  • A web page that existed before was deleted.
    • Example: the page now does not exist anymore and users to into a 404 error.
  • The page was moved without updating or properly redirecting the old URL to the new URL.
    • Example: you decided to update the url the page to the page but you did not redirect the old url to the new url
  • A technical issue exists that prevents the correct content from showing up
    • The page requires data from the backend server but the server is offline and hence the page cannot be shown
  • A user has mistyped the page URL
    • The user tries to go to your page but the mistypes the url

Understanding the origin of these errors is crucial for maintaining the integrity of a website and ensuring a smooth user experience. 

404 erros negatively impact a website’s indexing and the user experience

A 404 error hurts users as well as the google crawler (googlebot).

Too many 404 errors may cause the crawler to stop crawling

When the Googlebot encounters a 404 error while crawling your website, it can adversely affect not just the indexing of the particular page but indexing your entire website. On a side note, to ensure all pages are crawled properly, you first need to check if your website is indexed.

If the Googlebot runs into an excessive number of 404 errors while crawling your site, it will eventually stop crawling your page until the issues are rectified. 

A website with a lot of 404 errors also wastes its crawl budget. If the googlebot crawler is spending a lot of time crawling broken instead of healthy pages, the crawl budget is obviously wasted. Wasted crawl budget means that googlebot spends less time on indexing your important pages.

You can access the crawl statistics in your Google Search Console.

It is likely that if you have a lot of broken links on your website, the crawler cannot efficiently crawl your whole website hierarchy. For example, if the links from the blog overview page to the individual blogs are broken, the crawler will never be able to reach and indexing the individual blogs.

Impacts on SEO and User Experience

404 errors frustrate users, leading to a poor user experience and a potential loss of traffic as visitors may leave the site if they encounter a page not found. If visitors get a 404 error, your website may see increased bounce rates as users are more likely to leave immediately after arriving. In the long term, a website with a lot of broken links may damage your brand, leading to fewer branded searches.

Addressing 404 errors promptly is vital for website health, ensuring both search engines and users find the content they are looking for.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, readers will find targeted solutions to common issues associated with the 404 Not Found error and how to fix the error. Each subsection provides clear, actionable steps for different scenarios and devices.

Q: What is an error 404 and why does it occur?

A: An error 404, or 404 Not Found, is an HTTP status code that indicates the server could not find the requested page. It occurs when the page being accessed is no longer available or has been moved without a proper redirect set up.

Q: How do I identify 404 errors on my website?

A: When your website displaying a 404, you can identify 404 errors by checking your website analytics for pages with high error rates, using online tools that crawl your site for broken links, or monitoring your server logs for 404 status codes.

Q: What are some quick solutions to fix error 404 on my website?

A: Quick solutions that are most commonly use to fix error 404 include checking for broken links, setting up proper redirects for moved pages, ensuring correct file permissions, and updating permalinks if you are using a platform like WordPress.

Q: How can I set up redirects to handle error 404 not found pages?

A: You can set up redirects by editing your website’s .http access file, using a plugin on your WordPress site, or configuring redirects at the web server level. This will direct users from the non-existent page to a new page or relevant page on your site.

Q: What role do DNS settings play in causing 404 errors?

A: DNS settings can play a role in causing 404 error page on your website if they are misconfigured and do not point to the correct server or domain. Ensuring your DNS settings are accurate can help in resolving 404 errors.

Q: Why is it important to fix 404 not found pages on my website?

A: When the desired URL can’t be found. Fixing error 404 not found pages is important to provide a good user experience, maintain SEO ranking, and ensure that visitors can easily navigate your site without encountering dead ends.

Q: Can backlinks or internal links on my website result in error 404 pages?

A: Yes, backlinks or internal links on your website can lead to error 404 pages if the linked page has been removed or the page doesn’t exist and its URL has changed. Regularly checking and updating links can help prevent 404 errors.

Having website indexing issues?

Check out our blogs on the most common indexing issues and how to fix them. Fix your page indexing issues

Looking for an SEO Consultant?

Find the best SEO Consultant in Singapore (and worldwide). Best SEO Consultant

Is this you?

💸 You have been spending thousands of dollars on buying backlinks in the last months. Your rankings are only growing slowly.

❌You have been writing more and more blog posts, but traffic is not really growing.

😱You are stuck. Something is wrong with your website, but you don`t know what.

Let the SEO Copilot give you the clicks you deserve.