What is a 404 error status code
An online store page with 404 error might be a serious problem for your business, the 404 error page always impacts negatively on sales and your consumer`s loyalty. There are several reasons why you receive 404 HTTP status code (Not Found status error).
The search engine bot (Google, Bing etc.) is unable to find the requested page because it doesn’t exist. It might be deleted or renamed without using redirect to a new page. Also, the link may contain typos.
Usually, a 404 error occurs when user tries to reach a website page that couldn't be found on server. A standard 404 error page looks like a white screen with “404 Not Found error” notification. Generally, pages with an HTTP Not Found Error 404 contain some common words, e.g. “404 Not Found”, “HTTP 404 Not Found”, “error 404 not found “, “404 Page Not Found”, “404 - file or directory not found.”, etc.
Where did 404 error come from?
404 error returned when a server can’t retrieve the requested page. The original page can be either deleted or renamed with a wrong URL redirect to a new page, or you might miss a letter or character in a typed link. In a word, a 404 error means that a page does not related with typed URL. It takes a lot of time to check and fix a 404 error pages, especially on a content-heavy websites with many pages. Most often it is difficult to perform broken links check manually.
- SEO is the best way to make your site friendly to the spiders. Spiders are crawling and indexing your website and this way your site gets more views. But spiders can’t follow 404 error page links.
- Freshly updated pages will be more likely ranked by search engines. When you correct links, your site pages are also updated and re-spidered. A regularly broken link fixing can visibly improve your search engines ranking.
- Search engines recommend you to check for 404 error pages regularly. See Google Webmaster Guidelines
Almost all sites have broken links, but some of them have increased risk factors, as described below:
- Sites with a "long history", which goes back over 3-5 years. The site can be restructured and redesigned many times, which can lead to the appearance of broken links.
- Content-heavy websites that have over at least 500 unique pages.
- Online stores. 404 errors are a real headache for any online store with any quantity of products. The most common reasons are updates, the removal of products from the range, seasonal sales, and the creation of special event collections (for Christmas, Easter, etc.).
- Sites with significant structural changes. There are sites relocated to a new domain, sites with a changed CMS, or redesigned eCommerce-systems.
- Sites that are buying ads on many different landing pages. It is important to ensure the permanent availability of these pages.
When 404 errors and broken links that can be ignored
- The page does not fit any parameter above.
- The content is not important and valuable to you, and it will never be used again (even if the page is indexed by search engines).
- The entire site has a very low error rate and error 404 pages have no value.
- In these cases, you can ignore such a links, and after a while they will be removed automatically from the search engines’ indexes. Make sure these links have also been removed from your website sitemap.