So, does you site give visitors a great experience?
Or, do users to your site easily find what they want on the first try itself without facing any issue?
And what if they click a link and are taken to a page with the message “404 – Page not found”? What will they do next? Most probably, they will click away without wasting any time.
And if you own that website, it’s definitely not a good thing to face where you have put in all attempts to bring users to site only to see them go away without getting or adding any value.
For that reason, you will want to fix those broken links immediately and stop 404 errors from showing up to deliver an improved user experience. This will certainly help your website’s SEO ranking.
What causes a 404 error?
A 404 error is basically a standard response code that happens when the server is not able to find what is searched for or requested by the user. Your website will this display an error page once it can’t find the requested page.
Generally, a 404 error can happen for one of these reasons, including –
- The link a user clicks on may be dead or broken
- They page requested by a user may have been deleted
- Maybe the permalink was changed
- Or, a typing error in the link may mis-direct the user to a wrong page
- The error page may also show when the user may mistype a URL into the address bar
Categories of 404 errors
404 errors can come in different shape and form, and it’s better to first understand them fully before taking steps to fix them. And unless they are fixed, you site can’t start delivering value and a great user experience.
404 errors could be clubbed under 4 different categories, including –
Errors on the Live Site
These errors can interfere with the usability and user experience of the site and need to get fixed on an immediate basis, purely for their location, i.e., on the live site.
Errors Caused by Old Links
These errors are not only bad for user experience but also for SEO because they are caused a quality link from another site.
Malformation of URLs
These errors are not that harmful, they crop up all the time, and you can even ignore them if they referred by a quality link source.
Systemic 404 Errors
These errors indicate that something in your code is broken and need to get fixed to not let Google find them when crawling.
Why to fix 404 errors?
In general, 404 errors don’t impact SEO and Google does not expect websites to remain free of them. In some cases, though, it becomes key to get them fixed immediately and keep your site good for users.
#1 For User Experience
If you care for user experience, you should then fix all the errors on your website. Don’t let your visitors find a 404 error on the site as only a few might take it positive. The rest will click away with a bad experience. And if the frequency of such experience is more, this might harm your site’s prospects in the long run. So, it’s better to mend in time than let an error persist to cause harm over time.
#2 For SEO
Broken links are bad because they negatively impact user experience and a site’s credibility. As a website owner, you must know that Google’s focus is always on letting users have a great experience on sites. The search monolith cares search experience and includes a usability metric as part of their ranking algorithm. And when it crawls a site and finds a 404-error triggered by broken internal links, it downs the site’s SEO ranking. That’s how broken links affect the site’s ranking in organic search results. If SEO is what you care for, then don’t let broken links exist on your site.
#3 For offering value to users
Are you going to fix every 404 error? No, because, you will have 404 errors, no matter what. They are part of owning a website and you should not worry about preventing them all. They exist for a reason and you can use them to direct visitors to the right place.
You can use 404 page to add value to users, tell them that the content is shifted elsewhere or does not exist etc. You can also give a search function or a navigation so that users can find a way out easily. And with clever design, you can also improve user experience along the way as well.
To know on the subject, you can call on digital marketing experts. This will help you devise a right SEO strategy for your business and achieve growth.