Search Engine Optimization(SEO)

HTTP 404 Error: How to Fix Error 404 Not Found on Your Website

Error 404

The 404 error is a standard response code in the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) used to communicate between web servers and web browsers. When you encounter a 404 error, it means that the server was unable to locate the specific page or resource you were trying to access.

What is an HTTP 404 Error?

An HTTP 404 error is a response code that occurs when a web server cannot find the requested webpage or resource. It is a standard way for servers to indicate that the content you are trying to access is not available.

When you enter a URL or click on a link, your web browser sends a request to the server hosting the website. If the server cannot locate the specific page or resource you are looking for, it will respond with a 404 error.

The number “404” is simply an identification code for this type of error. It is part of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), which governs how web browsers and servers communicate. The 404 error tells your browser that the server understands your request, but the requested content cannot be found.

Common Causes of Error 404

The Error 404, also known as “404 Not Found,” is a common HTTP status and below are some common causes of the 404 error:

  • Mistyped or incorrect URL: One of the most common causes is simply entering an incorrect URL or making a typographical error while typing the web address. Double-check the URL for any mistakes.
  • Broken or outdated links: If you click on a link that leads to a page that no longer exists or has been moved, you will encounter a 404 error. This can happen if the website owner changes the URL structure or removes the page without updating the links pointing to it.
  • Deleted or moved content: Websites often undergo changes, and pages or resources may be deleted, relocated, or renamed. When you try to access a page that no longer exists in its original location, the server responds with a 404 error.
  • Server or hosting issues: Sometimes, the server hosting the website may encounter problems, such as misconfigurations or temporary downtime. These issues can lead to the server being unable to deliver the requested content, resulting in a 404 error.
  • Content access restrictions: Certain web pages or resources may have access restrictions in place, requiring authentication or specific permissions. If you don’t have the necessary credentials or authorization, you may receive a 404 error when trying to access them.
  • Missing default documents: Web servers are typically configured to look for specific default files (e.g., index.html or default.aspx) when a directory is accessed directly without specifying a specific file. If the default document is missing or has been removed, the server may return a 404 error.
  • Web crawler issues: If you are encountering a 404 error on a website that you manage, it’s possible that web crawlers, such as search engine bots, are encountering broken links or outdated URLs when indexing your site. Regularly checking and updating your website’s links can help prevent this issue.

Impact of Error 404 on Website Performance

Encountering a 404 error can have a significant impact on both user experience and website performance. Here’s how:

  • User Experience: When a user clicks on a link or enters a URL that results in a 404 error, it can be frustrating and confusing. Users may assume that the website is down or unavailable, or that they have done something wrong. If the user cannot find the content they are looking for, they are likely to leave the website, potentially resulting in lost traffic, revenue, and a negative brand reputation.
  • Website Performance: 404 errors can also have a direct impact on website performance. When a server returns a 404 error, it consumes server resources and increases the website’s load time. This can lead to a poor user experience, lower search engine rankings, and reduced website traffic.

Search engines use crawlers to index and rank websites based on their content and relevance. When a search engine crawler encounters a 404 error, it assumes that the page no longer exists, and it may remove it from search results. This can result in a loss of traffic and negatively impact the website’s search engine rankings.

How to Detect Error 404 on a Website

To detect error 404s on a website, you can use various methods and tools to monitor and identify them. Here are a few approaches you can take:

  • Manually check for broken links: Visit your website and navigate through its pages, verifying each link to ensure they lead to the intended content. Pay attention to any 404 error messages that appear, indicating broken links. This method is suitable for small websites with a limited number of pages.
  • Utilize website analytics tools: Tools like Google Analytics provide insights into the behavior of your website visitors, including the pages they visit and the paths they take. By analyzing your website analytics, you can identify any 404 errors that users encounter when navigating your site. Look for pages with high bounce rates or exit rates, which may indicate broken links.
  • Employ website monitoring services: Several online services and tools specialize in monitoring websites for errors, including 404 errors. These services periodically crawl your website, checking for broken links and other issues. They can provide detailed reports or send notifications when 404 errors are detected. Examples of such tools include Pingdom, UptimeRobot, and Site24x7.
  • Use browser extensions: Browser extensions like “Check My Links” for Google Chrome or “LinkChecker” for Firefox can automatically scan web pages for broken links, including 404 errors. These extensions highlight broken links on the page, making it easier to identify and fix them.
  • Set up server logs analysis: Server logs can provide valuable information about the requests made to your website. By analyzing server logs, you can identify any requests that resulted in 404 errors. Server log analysis tools such as AWStats, Webalizer, or Splunk can assist in examining the logs and extracting relevant information.

Fixing Error 404: 4 Proven Methods

When you encounter a 404 error on your website, it is important to take prompt action to fix the issue and ensure a smooth user experience. If you are wondering how to solve the Error 404 then you should check the below information!

Method 1: Updating or Correcting Broken Links

  • Using a broken link checker tool: Utilize online tools or website plugins specifically designed to identify broken links on your website. These tools crawl through your website and provide a list of URLs that return 404 errors. Once identified, you can update or remove the broken links.
  • Manually updating internal links: Review your website’s content and navigation to identify internal links that lead to 404 errors. Update these links with the correct URLs or remove them if the content is no longer available. Ensure that all internal links point to valid and relevant pages.
  • Handling external backlinks: If external websites are linking to pages on your website that result in 404 errors, you have a couple of options:
    • Contact the website owners: Reach out to the owners of the external websites and request them to update their links to the correct URLs. Provide them with the updated URLs or suggest alternative relevant pages to link to.
    • Implement a redirect: If you have moved or renamed a page that is receiving external backlinks, set up a redirect from the old URL to the new URL. This will automatically redirect visitors and search engines to the appropriate content.

Method 2: Implementing 301 Redirects

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect that informs search engines and browsers that a page has moved permanently to a new location. When a user or search engine visits the old URL, they are automatically redirected to the new URL, minimizing the impact of 404 errors. It also ensures that any existing rankings, backlinks, and traffic are transferred to the new page. Tools and techniques for setting up redirects:

  • Redirect via .htaccess (Apache):

If your website is hosted on an Apache server, you can use the .htaccess file to set up redirects. Open the file and add the following line for each redirect:

Redirect 301 /old-page.html

Replace “/old-page.html” with the path of the old page relative to the root directory of your website, and “” with the full URL of the new page.

  • Redirect via web server configuration (Nginx):

For websites hosted on Nginx servers, you can set up redirects in the server configuration file. Add the following code inside the appropriate server block:

location /old-page.html {    
return 301;
  • Redirect plugins:

Content management systems (CMS) like WordPress offer plugins that simplify the process of setting up redirects. Popular plugins include “Redirection” and “Yoast SEO” for WordPress, which provide user-friendly interfaces to manage redirects.

  • Web hosting control panels:

Some web hosting control panels, such as cPanel or Plesk, offer features to set up redirects. Look for options like “Redirects” or “URL Redirects” in your hosting control panel and follow the instructions provided.

  • Third-party redirect services:

If you prefer a hosted solution, there are third-party services like Bitly, TinyURL, or Cloudflare that allow you to set up redirects. These services often provide additional features like link analytics and management.

Method 3: Restoring or Recreating Missing Pages

  • Recovering deleted or lost pages from backups: If you have backups of your website, check if the missing pages are available in those backups. Restore the backup that contains the deleted or lost pages to bring them back online. This method is applicable if you have regular backups and the missing pages were present in a previous backup.
  • Recreating relevant content and resources: If the missing pages cannot be recovered from backups or were never backed up in the first place, you can recreate them by following these steps:
    • Analyze the purpose and content of the missing pages: Understand what the pages were about and their significance to your website. Consider the information they provided or the functionality they offered.Plan the structure and content: Determine how the recreated pages should be structured and what content they should contain. Aim to provide the same or similar value as the original pages.Create new pages: Use your preferred website creation tool or content management system to create new pages that match the planned structure and content. Pay attention to the URL structure and ensure it aligns with your website’s overall organization.Rewrite or repurpose content: If you have any content related to the missing pages, such as blog posts, articles, or media, you can rewrite or repurpose that content to fit the new pages. Make sure the information is up-to-date and relevant.Update internal links: Once the new pages are created, update any internal links within your website that referenced the missing pages. Ensure that the links point to the new pages and are working correctly.
    • Update sitemaps and navigation: Update your website’s sitemap and navigation menus to reflect the presence of the newly created pages. This will help visitors navigate to the recreated content.

Method 4: Modifying Server Configuration

  • Troubleshooting server settings and configurations: The server settings and configurations can sometimes cause 404 errors. Follow these steps to troubleshoot and modify the server configuration:
    • Check the server logs: Examine the server logs to identify any errors or misconfigurations that might be causing the 404 errors. Look for relevant error messages that can help pinpoint the issue.
    • Verify the document root directory: Ensure that the document root directory is correctly set in the server configuration. The document root is the directory where your website’s files are stored, and it should match the actual location of your website’s files.
    • Confirm file and directory permissions: Make sure that the file and directory permissions are properly set to allow the server to access and serve the requested files. Incorrect permissions can result in 404 errors.
    • Check URL rewriting rules: If you are using URL rewriting or rewriting modules like mod_rewrite, review the rules in your server configuration files. Ensure that they are correctly written and do not interfere with the proper functioning of your website’s URLs.
    • Test server response for specific URLs: Check the server response for specific URLs that are generating 404 errors. You can use tools like cURL or online HTTP status code checkers to inspect the response headers and identify any issues.
  • Collaborating with web hosting support: If you are unable to identify or resolve the server configuration issues on your own, reach out to your web hosting support for assistance. They can provide guidance, investigate server settings, and help resolve any server-related problems causing the 404 errors.

Collaborating with your web hosting support is particularly important if you lack experience in server administration or if you are using a managed hosting service. Their expertise can help ensure that the server configuration is correctly set up and optimized for your website’s needs.

How to Solve Error 404 with Plugins on WordPress

If you’re using WordPress, solving Error 404 with plugins can be an effective approach. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Install and activate a 404 error management plugin such as “404page” or “Redirection.” You can find these plugins by going to the WordPress plugin directory, searching for the plugin name, and then clicking “Install Now” and “Activate.”
  • Configure the plugin settings according to your requirements. This may include customizing the 404 error page, setting up redirects, or tracking 404 errors.
  • Create custom 404 error pages using the plugin’s features to provide helpful information and links to guide users back to relevant content. To do this, access the plugin’s settings, find the option to create a custom 404 error page, and follow the prompts to design and publish your custom page.
  • Use the plugin’s redirect functionality to set up 301 redirects for broken links or deleted pages. This will redirect users to appropriate pages or similar content. To set up a redirect, access the plugin’s settings, find the option to create a redirect, and input the source and target URLs.
  • Test your custom 404 error page and redirects to ensure that they are working correctly. You can do this by intentionally visiting a non-existent page on your website and checking that your custom 404 error page is displayed, and that any configured redirects are functioning as expected.

Set Up 301 Redirects For Broken Links on WordPress

To set up 301 redirects for broken links or deleted pages on WordPress, follow these steps:

  • Install and activate a redirection plugin like “Redirection” or “Simple 301 Redirects” from the WordPress plugin directory. You can do this by navigating to the “Plugins” section in your WordPress dashboard, clicking on “Add New,” and searching for the desired plugin. Once found, click on “Install Now” and then “Activate.”
  • After activating the plugin, access its settings. Typically, you can find it in the WordPress dashboard under “Tools” or in a separate “Redirection” section.
  • In the plugin’s settings, locate the option to add a new redirect or create a new redirection rule.
  • Enter the source URL (the broken or deleted page URL) in the appropriate field. Make sure to include the full URL, including the domain name.
  • Specify the target URL, which is the destination where you want the users to be redirected. This can be an existing page on your website or an external URL.
  • Select the redirection type as “301 Permanent Redirect.” This ensures that search engines and browsers understand that the redirect is permanent and update their indexes and caches accordingly.
  • Save the redirect or redirection rule.
  • Test the redirect by visiting the old URL in your web browser. It should automatically redirect you to the specified target URL.
  • Repeat the process for any other broken or deleted pages that require redirects.

By setting up 301 redirects, you can ensure that visitors and search engines are automatically redirected from the old URLs to relevant and functioning pages on your WordPress website. This helps maintain the user experience, preserves SEO value, and prevents 404 errors.

The Closure

By following the steps outlined above, you can address Error 404 on your WordPress site using redirection plugins. Installing and activating a reliable redirection plugin allows you to set up 301 redirects for broken links or deleted pages. It’s important to test the redirects to ensure they are functioning correctly. Regularly monitor your website for broken links and update or fix them promptly to maintain a smooth browsing experience for your visitors.

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