Don’t we all hate 404 errors? Aren’t they just the worst? Well in this tutorial, we will show you not only how to monitor your site’s 404 errors, but also show you how to fix them!
But first things first. What are 404 errors you might be wondering? Well they are errors visitors to a website get when the page they are trying to visit doesn’t exist. This typically happens when that page has been moved or deleted. So you might be thinking, no biggie! They can just visit my site’s home page and check out my long body of work. Well unfortunately it’s a little more complicated than that.
See, most visitors visiting a specific url on your website are looking for something specific and are likely to move on aka leave your website upon getting a 404 error. But the most painful aspect of a 404 error is it can hurt your SEO rankings especially when you have too many of them. So now I have your attention! For these listed reasons, it is essential that you both monitor and fix all 404 errors on your WordPress site.
In addition to affecting your search engine rankings, the best reason to monitor and fix the 404 errors on your WordPress site is so that you stop losing traffic. And the best way to do this is by redirecting your 404 pages to other pages on your website which have great and live content.
This is where the 301 redirects come in. A 301 redirect can be best defined as a permanent redirect of one url to another. Even better, with a 301 redirect, you also get the ranking power of the old page being redirected. So let’s say the page producing the 404 error had a high ranking in Google, that ranking juice will now go on to the new page following your 301 redirect meaning the popularity of the old page goes to the new one and not to waste. Got it now? Good!
How to Fix 404 Errors With a 301 Redirect
I know by now you’re probably dreading how complicated you think this is but fret not as there is an excellent WordPress plugin called ‘Redirection‘ that makes this process uber easy for WordPress users.
All you have to do is install the Redirection plugin, and then just like that you can monitor and redirect any 404 error your website receives all on one page. As you can see from the screenshot below, this process is extremely easy. All you have to do is enter the old url receiving the 404 error, and then enter the new url you want to redirect that old page to. And with those simple steps, you no longer risk losing visitors to your site or messing up your SEO rankings.
Quick Tips –
- It’s better to do a redirect the minute you move or delete a url on your website, than wait until you start getting the 404 errors. As stated earlier, too many 404 errors can hurt your website rankings.
- You do not want to abuse this so try to keep the 301 redirects as clean as possible. For example, you probably shouldn’t redirect a page about blogging tips to a page about DIY home tips. You always want to keep your audience in mind and try to make the 301 redirects as honest and helpful to them as you can.
- Do feel free to redirect more than one old url to a new url as long as they are somewhat related.
And that’s it for this 404 tutorial. Be sure to make your redirects today as not to lose any visitors or SEO rankings to your WordPress site. Feel free to include any comments or feedback below.