‘Oops, page not found!’
As a website visitor, you might have seen this message more than once when trying to find something online. This can cause some irritation since the information you’re looking for is removed or deleted from the server.
This happens a lot when you make some changes to their WordPress website’s URL but forget to notify Google. As a consequence, visitors will still see the old links on search engines which don’t lead them to the desired content anymore. So what should you do to resolve this issue?
In this article, we’ll explain some other reasons why a 404 error occurs in more detail. Then, we’ll show you 2 effective ways to deal with it.
What Does 404 Error Mean?
Before digging into solutions to fix the error, let’s define what a 404 error page is.
In fact, “404 error” refers to an HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) status code to notify visitors that they’re trying to access a page that can’t be found.
In other words, the URL of the specific content is no longer available on that website. Whoever tries to reach that page will see the 404 error message.
Let’s take a look at a typical 404 page:
Some 404 error pages could be bettered with a more eye-catching design. You can include a funny video or an interesting image there.
Why Does WordPress Output a 404 Error?
There are tons of reasons for WordPress to show a 404 page but we will discuss the three highlighted “culprit”:
- Users type an incorrect web address
The 404 error most commonly happens when users enter the wrong URL of a page. They might miss a letter in the slug or typing the wrong domain name. For example, instead of browsing the correct link https://preventdirectaccess.com/4-ways-to-redirect-users-after-login, your users enter https://preventdirectaccess.net/4-ways-redirect-users-after-login.
If users click on an existing link, they rarely make this mistake. However, when they’re confident that they remember the page URL and type the link directly on the browser, they’re possibly accessing the wrong one.
- You change the page URL
When changing the URLs of your website or any page and post, you accidentally forget to update it in the search engine. Google’s BOT no longer be able to index the old content anymore. It’ll also immediately notify Google about this error. As a consequence, your website will display the message ‘Oops, something went wrong!’
Once updating a page URL, you have to redirect the old one to the current link so that visitors can view the content even though they access the previous link.
- It depends on your content and access permission
When one page on your website has little or no content, Google will return it to a 404 not found page which is also called soft 404.
Some users wonder why they couldn’t view a page while others can. It might be because they don’t have the right access permission. For instance, a page set to private allows admin to read the content only.
Another case comes to protecting pages on your WordPress site. It requires users to log in in order to view the content or they have to use a specific link.
How Does 404 Error Impact Your WordPress Website?
In fact, you can find this error on almost all websites so you might consider that a 404 not found error doesn’t affect much on the site. Conversely, it actually harms your site in the SEO and user-experience perspective.
If your website has too many 404 errors, it will greatly bring down the traffic as well as user satisfaction. They will immediately leave your site and the likelihood of them coming back is also very low.
Besides, a 404 error also influences your website’s ranking on Google’s search results pages. Google won’t trust sites with too many inaccessible links. It will hardly rank other pages and posts of your site although they’re good enough to place on the first result page too.
How to Solve 404 Problem in Your WordPress Site
There are 2 main methods you can apply to fix 404 errors on your site, either entering code or using a third-party plugin. We will start with the easier solution, installing a WordPress 404 redirect plugin.
Among tons of plugins for fixing a 404 error, here are two best ones that promise to solve this problem, including SEO Redirection and All 404 Redirect to Homepage plugins.
Use Redirection Plugin
Redirection allows you to add and manage 301 redirects on your WordPress site easily. Meanwhile, 301 redirect is the process of consolidating an expired domain name related to your website with the purpose of increasing website reputation. The plugin also helps you find and fix 404 by integrating into Google Search Console.
First of all, you need to activate SEO Redirection Plugin for WordPress by following these steps:
- Go to Plugin → Add New in your WordPress dashboard
- Type the plugin name in the Search Plugin box, then install and activate it
- Click on Redirection under the Tools section
- Enter your former website link in the Source URL section and the new website link in the Target URL section in the Redirection Plugin working window
- Click on Add Redirection
Use All 404 Redirect to Homepage plugin
This plugin enables you to handle 404 error pages appearing on your website and redirect them to the homepage or any other page.
All 404 Redirect to Homepage proves extremely easy to set up and use. Here is all you need to do to get started with the plugin:
- Install and activate the plugin. Refer to the Redirection installation process on how to get this plugin for your WordPress site.
- Head to Settings and click on All 404 Redirect to Homepage
- Select Enabled for the Status
- Enter the redirected URL in the “Redirect all 404 pages to” box
- Save your changes
Redirect 404 pages to the Homepage using Code
This way is too easy to apply. It requires you to edit your 404.php file. Here is all the process: Click Appearance → Editor → File 404.php
Then, insert the code below into that file and click Update File.
<?php header("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently"); header("Location: ".get_bloginfo('url')); exit(); ?>
Create Better User Experience with Creative 404 Pages
As mentioned, without an eye-catching or funny 404 page, not only do users feel annoyed about not accessing the website but they also get bored quickly with a dull page. Consequently, visitors will no longer want to stay with your website or come back late on. That’s why it is necessary for you to design a creative 404 error page.
Choosing a suitable theme plays a key role in creating a more interesting 404 page. You can pick themes that:
- Offer funny things and make users laugh
- Stay true to your brand
- Include cartoon characters speak to the fans
- Have cool visual
- Let words do the talking
Don’t Upset Your WordPress Site Users with 404 Errors
Fixing 404 errors on your WordPress site is not a complicated task if you apply the right method. You can either update your theme files with custom code or use a 404 redirect specialized plugin. Remember to style your 404 error page with creative designs for better user experience.
Still have a question about WordPress 404 error? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.