We’ve all had the experience of a 404 page- when we land on a website and get a “Page Not Found” error. This can happen when a page has been deleted or erased, or, more common, when a page has been moved. I’ve run into this more on my own blog over the past couple of weeks, as I’ve been consolidating three other blogs into this one. Yes, it’s time for me to stop having a split online personality and be all focused in one place.
Anyway, so what a 404 error signifies is that a page has been requested which is not found on your site.
If you use wordpress, there are some great plugins you can use to help you test and repair the 404 errors on your site.
I’m using three of them on my site at this time.
The first is 404 notifier, which can be configured to email you each time a 404 error happens. I set this up right away so I could track down errors quickly.
The second one I installed is Smart 404, which attempts to locate the page before giving a 404 error. So this means that if a similar sounding page is found on your site, this plugin will redirect to that page and prevent a 404 error.
The third plugin I’m using is Redirection, which moves one link to another- so when I get a 404 error on my site, I set up a redirection from that link to the correct one. This means that people get where they are wanting to go (always a good thing!) and that the number of 404 errors on your site reduces, because you’re fixing the problem.
When I first got notifications about 404 errors, there were a lot of them- and one, critically, was a mistaken link to my newsletter page – which meant that I was likely losing potential subscribers because they couldn’t find my newsletter signup page.
But, since I’ve been monitoring and fixing the errors as they arise, the number of 404 errors has dropped dramatically.
I know there are many things to keep track of in your business, and 404 errors may not be at the top of your list.
But then, on the other hand, if you’re generating a lot of visitors and many of them are getting lost enroute; you aren’t getting as much benefit from your efforts as you could be.
So I’d suggest getting your site checked out for 404 errors and repairing them as soon as you can.
Keep the pathways open to help people get where they want to go on your site- this will have positive impact on your business.