If your site has been redesigned or you have switched to another content management system, then several pages of your site are more likely to be no longer accessible for users and search crawlers. If an average user cannot reach any website page, a search engine notifies him that this page is not found (404 error). As the links are directly influenced by a website SEO, a big number of links that do not have any value to users as well as to Google bots can negatively affect your rankings. It means that every time you change your site structure or delete a part of content other sources link to, you may lose your PageRank and in general your business visibility on the Internet.
To avoid rankings fall and improve your website SEO, you need to eliminate 404 errors and quality redirecting links. In this article, I will tell you how you can prevent 404 errors and eliminate the existing ones.
404 error page definition
Every error on the web has its code. A“not found” page error corresponds to 404 code. This notification tells users that their browser can connect to the certain domain, but its target page a user wants to open couldn’t be reached. Every time a user clicks on the URL that no longer points to an available page, he can observe “not found” page. Of course, it negatively affects the users search experience and reduces a domain authority.
Moreover, 404 errors may adversely affect your site optimization. As search engines take user experience as an important ranking factor, a site may lose positions in the SERP. As soon as page received 404 error, Google bots will recognize it and remove this page from the index. On the one hand, it is a plus for you as users will no more observe this page. On the contrary, it also drops all of the PageRank from backlinks pointing to that page. As PageRank directly affects your domain position on SERP and brand awareness, you need to redirect relevant links that return 404 errors for your potential customers.
How to prevent 404 errors?
By fixing your error 404 pages, you will improve your site rankings and user experience. The best way to fix error 404 is to use a 301 redirect. It is a special code that tells users and search engines that your site content has moved permanently to another domain. A 301 redirect transfer all your old page qualities to your new domain, saving your site positions.
Moreover, it is a smart decision to create a redirect for common misspellings to improve user experience with your site. Make sure all your potential customers who occasionally misspell some word in the URL are redirected to the correct site page.
If you’ve noticed any valuable links that point towards pages related to your market niche with error 404, use a redirect 301 to point these links to your site.