The 404 error is one of most recognizable errors people can find on the Internet, for following a wrong link, clicking on a dead link, visiting a webpage that has been removed, etc. When visitors see such a message, they are usually inpatient, immediately closing this page and leaving your site without hesitates. In order to hold your visitors and fix your site, we explain what HTTP 404 error is and show you the detailed guidelines to fix it in WordPress websites.
What is HTTP 404 Error?
The 404 error message is an HTTP standard response code, with which website is able to connect with the server. It is typically presented by the server when a link is broken, the link is changed, or just the corresponding page has been removed or deleted.
In general, the standard 404 error page is a white screen with simple information that tells you the request is unreachable. Here is a screenshot of the basic 404 page.
However, many webmasters choose to customize 404 pages to beautify the page look and increase the user-friendliness. No matter what the page is, you can find some common words, such as
- “404 Error”
- “404 Not Found”
- “The requested URL [URL link ] was not found on this server.”
- “HTTP 404 Not Found”
- “404 Page Not Found”
When you see some similar content on a webpage, you meet a 404 error and just try to do something others.
Causes for 404 Error and Ways to Fix It
The 2 main issues are,
Issues on Your Permalink Structure
If the permalink structure of your WordPress site has been changed, your internal pages will be moved to new URLs. When this happens, any link that points to the old URLs will be broken, and here will appear 404 page error on your website.
Resolutions: Resave Your Permalinks Settings
You should go to your WordPress Dashboard to fix the permalinks setting. In specific, hang the pointer on “Settings” to expand it, and then click “Permalinks” in the list.
Then, you should select a permalink you like and scroll down to the bottom of the following page to click “Save Changes”.
What you have done just now will update the permalinks settings and refresh the rewrite rules, and fix the 404 error.
If the issue still exists, you need to login to your server via FTP, and manually update the .htaccess file. To be specific, you should temporarily set the file writeable by changing the permissions to 666. Next, repeat the previous method. Remember to re-change the permissions to 660 after that.
Alternatively, you can manually insert the following code in your .htaccess file:
Issues on Pages and Links
- Visitors come across the 404 error if the posts, pages, tags and categories they visit have been deleted from your site.
- People may be also presented with a 404 error page they happen to click the link that has been misspelled or broken.
Resolutions: Use 301 Redirection
Using 301 redirection is a smart method to fix 404 error. When visitors come to your site and this redirection will lead them to a page that is related to the unavailable content or a page that they can find answers to their original query. To do this, you can install one of the WordPress plugins listed below.
- Redirection: Redirection is a free WordPress plugin coming with rich features. It provides 404 error monitoring that captures 404 errors on your website and allows you to easily map these to 301 redirects. With it, you’re able to manage 301 redirections and keep track of 404 errors.
- 404 to 301: With 404 to 301, things can be easy. It can help to handle all 404 errors for you and redirect them to any page or custom link based on your needs and preferences.
- Eggplant 301 Redirects: Eggplant 301 Redirects plugin helps you easily manage and create 301 redirects for your WordPress site to improve SEO and visitor experience. It has a robust and user-friendly interface, which allows you to create and validate redirects with ease.
How to Enable 301 Redirection Using a Plugin?
Now, we would like to use one of the above mentioned plugins of Redirection to show you how to fix a 404 error page in the following parts.
If you haven’t installed this Redirection plugin, the first thing you need to do is to install it. Specifically, go to your WordPress Dashboard, hang the pointer on “Plugins” and click “Add New”.
Then, enter “Redirection” in the “Search Plugins” box and find the right one from the search results here on the page. Click “Install Now”.
After installing, click “Activate Plugin”.
After installing and activating, go to “Tools” under Dashboard on the left side menu and click “Redirection” in the expanding list as the screenshot shows below.
Now, you can see a page like this.
Before having any further move here, you need to go to your Google Webmasters tool account in the browser and click the domain name that you want to analyze and deal with 404 error. Next, click “Crawl” to expand it and then click “Crawl Errors”. On the right side, you’ll see a list of 404 error results.
You can click any of the links and there will be a pop-up window displaying that detailed 404 error information, including the crawl time and detect time.
To create a 301 redirection for this 404 error, return to your WordPress Dashboard, click the “404s” link on the “Redirection” page, and you will see the source URL captured on the Google Webmasters error page. Then, you can create a 301 redirection for the URL and direct it to other page on your site. Click the “Add redirect” link.
On the bottom of the page, you can find the section of “Add new redirection”. Here, you should enter the URL which you want to redirect in the “Source URL” box, and then enter a valid destination URL in the “Target URL” box. This is where your 404 error page will be directed to when visitors click it. Once done, click “Add Redirection”.
After you have created the 301 redirection successfully, click the “Redirections” link and you can see the record on the page. Here you’re able to see the number of hits this URL received.
Things haven’t finished yet. You need to return to your Google Webmasters tool account once again, and find the 404 error URL you have fixed just now, and then click “Marked as fixed”.
Create a Customized 404 Error Page
No matter how hard you are trying, you can hardly avoid 404 error pages. Among all the mistakes that drive visitors away, a 404 error page takes the first place. When people land on the page, the most possible thing they are going to do is leaving your site and finding another one. Thus, creating a custom 404 error page that gives choices and information to customers matters a lot to successful websites.
We are going to give you some suggestions that make the page attractive and interesting.
Create a Search Blank
The original 404 error page is not interesting at all. It only makes people disappointing and want to leave. They may regard you as an irresponsible site manager and never come back again. Therefore, you need to show your responsibility at the first place. Creating a search bar for Google or any other search engine is a good choice, which let people seek the information on the page.
Keep It Familiar
When visitors are brought to the 404 error page, they may believe that they have left the former website. Thus, you need to give them hints that indicate they are still on your website. You can make a banner that contains the logo of your site or write several lines of explanations from the respect your site.
Actually, it is the website manager to be blamed when the error page appears. Accordingly, visitors need an appropriate explanation for the mistake. More specifically, they need an apology. Since web owners can’t be at the spot, a picture delegating them is necessary. It is fine whether the image is a real people photo or cartoon but it should have sad expressions. Only in this way can people see your sincere apology.
Design with Proper Background
It is rather upset when visitors go to a black and white world from a colorful one. Thus, create the page with colorful and eye-catching background. The look and feel should remain the same as the rest of your website. Note that, you’d better choose a proper but not dazzle one.
Offer Some Links
It is considerate for visitors if there are some links on the error page. Except the search blank, you can add links that guide people to your website home page. Besides, you can also give links to the most popular posts, the most commented posts, the latest posts, or more. With the insertion of these links, your website can be useful for visitors. It is a win-win situation where people can get what they want without leaving your site.
Broken Links Report
Broken links do harm to user experience and SEO rankings. With a great number of articles included in your website, you have trouble fixing the broke links timely. Make use of broken links checkers and allow visitors to report broken links on the 404 error page.
Prevent 404 pages from being indexed
All the things you have done is to make 404 page more useful and beautiful. A better user experience will come through a custom 404 page. But at the time time, you probably want to prevent the page from being indexed. In this case, it is required that the server should return an actual 404 HTTP status code.
WordPress Plugin to Customize 404 Not Found Error Page
404 page is an error page that is seen by you when the page you are searching for isn’t at the landed URL. There are several reasons that your visitors may encounter such as an error page when browsing your website. Therefore, you need to customize the 404 page with a view to offering a better reading experience. For instance, you can suggest people to go for your other pages that already exist. This can be done easily by using WordPress 404 plugin. This article contains a list of free WordPress 404 plugins, and their features are surely going to assist you in customizing the 404 error pages.
404 to Start
If you do not like 404 error pages, then you can redirect all the Not Found errors on a permanent basis. You can also redirect such pages temporarily as well. This is done in order to replace the error pages with any other webpages in your website that you like. The plugin is going to help you in solving the problems associated with bad external links that are not working under your effect. This is an excellent plugin because of the flexibility it offers.
Genesis Widgetized Not Found & 404
The plugin helps your readers in staying longer on your WordPress site as it provides them with options like introductory texts, recent posts, and images, etc for some other pages. It comes up with improved user experience and works across the Genesis child themes.
You can easily switch your skins with the help of this plugin. The plugin also provides you with extra search form widget along with variant options as compared with that of default core widget of WordPress. The Genesis WordPress 404 plugin is regarded to be perfect for multi-lingual websites.
With the help of this plugin, you can create automatic redirects for the traffic of 404 and suggestions of pages when people are unable to find matches of the desired page. 404 redirection helps you in controlling the dead links and redirects people from the inside of the website via admin panel.
You can also easily create 301 and 302 redirects with the help of this plugin. These redirects can easily be created on the best match for URL that people are looking for.
Auto Redirect 404 in 301 for Trashed Posts
You can track the SEO of your WordPress websites with the help of this plugin. When any post gets deleted, you can automatically create a 301 redirect in order to avoid 404 errors and the penalization by Google.
All the old taxonomies and old posts get redirected to the homepage of your website by default. You can also alter the URL of the redirect for all the post types, pages and taxonomies with the help of this redirection plugin.
Custom 404 Error Page: Unlimited designs and colours
You can easily customize your 404 page with the help of this plugin. It provides you with multiple dashboard options, which help you in modifying the background according to your choice. You can also change the styles, colours of the fonts and images as well. The page can display last post with your site on the error pages so that the readers may select to follow one of this rather than leaving your page.
WordPress Ultimate 404 Plugin
You can get a full control on your WordPress 404 page by using WordPress Ultimate 404 plugin. You can customize the content and also choose variant pre-defined themes that contain custom options in them.
The plugin also records all the instances of your 404 page for you. This helps you in identifying which page gets the most visitors. It adds redirect URL in case you want. The plugin also records searched keywords of the visitors for best the ideas of SEO.
5sec Proper 404
5sec Proper 404 plugin helps in stopping hard coding of your 404 page in 404.php. You can select any page in order to use it as 404 page. The plugin makes use of 5 shortcodes in order to make useful and much better 404 pages.
It also helps you by eliminating the broken links and other back-links with the detailed log of 404. The plugin is easy, simple and best to be used for removing 404 errors from your sites.
If you want to move useless things around on your site, then you might overlook several redirects. You might end up with broken URLs ultimately. If you want to avoid this sort of problem, then it can be fixed by this 404 Notifier. With the help of this plugin, you can catch these issues so you can get them repaired for the future use. 404 Notifier is a perfect plugin that is definitely going to serve the purpose.
404 Error Page Showcases
404 error page is also called Page Not Found. It is an HTTP standard response code indicating that you can connect the server, but the server cannot find the page you want. It often occurs when there is a broken link or the link is removed, or a change in the targeted page. Anyway, there are many possible causes to a 404 error page.
When talked about website design, lots of site owners or managers just give beneath attention to 404 error page, because they believe in their works. However, we all know that there is nothing perfect in the world, neither is web design. Every website may encounter 404 error page even because of a little headless. When it happens, visitors can be extremely impatient.
To eliminate visitors’ bad mood, the error page design need to not only inform the occurred error message but also give useful and relevant solutions and options for further navigation to readers. Now, there are two popular solutions to design a 404 page. The one is to hire an HTLM expert to write codes and the other is to apply elegant themes or plugins. Undoubtedly, the latter one is more budget-friendly and easy-to-use. Therefore, we collect various best 404 error page showcases to help you customize your 404 error page.
Blizzard is clean but not monotonous. Dark blue is her main color with some words in the middle: Grats. You broke it. The font is big enough to see, especially for Grats that is overstocked. Under this obvious sentence, there is a line of sentence with smaller font explains: This page doesn’t exist or some other horrible error has occurred.
A crying child is really eye-catching and makes people laughing. On the left side, black 404 in big size inform you what happens.
A sign warns you that it is a 404 error page. There is an astronaut and several pits illustrate the page is just like the moon to human beings: the wrong place.
Several birds, flowers, and leaves are lying on the creamy white background. The picture let you feel refreshing just like walking into the heart of the forest on a sunny day. What makes you cannot help laughing is that there are two giraffes talking to each other. The smaller one says: I am lost while the bigger one answers: Hello, I am the “fourohfour” (404) giraffe. It looks like you got lost but don’t be afraid, click here and I’ll escort you home.
Apartment Home Living
As the name suggests, this one is the style of daily life. There are several towels in a bathroom with a depression goat.
The whole scene is setting on a beach. The blue sea matches the light yellow sand perfectly. Besides, a little and cute cat shows you 404 error page occurs.
A lonely old robot with a red flag reading 404 rests in the black universe. At the first sight of the picture, readers can know what is going on.
Audiko is bright and colorful. There are cartoon images to explaining what is happening and a Google search bar for readers to search wanted information.