Fixing 404 errors

404 errors, sometimes show up for now reason at all, so its important to know and make sure you don’t make a big deal out of nothing. A good way to find 404 errors is by simply setting up Google Webmaster Tools.

404 errors can potentially be created by your server dynamicially creating URL’s or it could simply be because external sites are linking to you, but have missplet the link so it produces a 404 page when clicked, unfortunately Google sees this as a 404 on your website.

404 pages are generally nothing to worry about, they can NOT harm your search engine rankings!

However, if someone is linking to you and they have missplet the link, you should ask them to change the link so it links correctly to your page, or you are not gaining any link juice.

Alternativly you can place a 301 redirect on the page so you still gain some of the link juice.

You can use the following code to create a 301 redirect, the code will need to be placed on a new line in your .htaccess file:

Change the the ‘/old/old.htm’ part to the link/url you want to redirect, and change the ‘http://www.newurl.com/new.htm’ part to the new url destination.

*Note the htaccess file can be found in your root directory, it will be hidden so you have to setup your FTP to show hidden files, here is a guide for showing hidden files on FileZilla.If there is not a htaccess file in the root folder then simply create one in notepad, and save it as .htaccess, then upload it to the root folder.

Custom 404 Pages

As well as redirecting your 404 pages, it is also good practise to create a custom 404 page, you can do this by following the below steps:

  1. Place the following line of code into your .htaccess file
  2. Create a new html page with the 404 page content, you can include anything you like; but try to make this page helpful, Apple do this well by including links to other important pages.
  3. Once you have created you page upload it to your webserver.
  4. Now whenever anyone accidently types your URL wrong or clicks on an old link they will be taken to your custom 404 page!