How To Fix 404 Errors on WordPress
So, at one point or another, you’ve most likely seen a 404 error, and you’re probably wondering, how do I fix 404 errors on my WordPress site? Well, luckily, we promise, it’s not as confusing as it seems.
A 404 error is an HTTP status code displayed when a web page is unable to fully load the intended content, which means, the web page was most likely deleted or the URL changed.
Just to clarify, the 404 error indicates that your web hosting service is still functioning, the page itself is just not accessible, for a number of reasons. This is a huge concern as you’re missing out on prospective customers, and simultaneously, negatively affecting your SEO efforts.
As you can see from the screenshot below, this is what a website visitor will see when they land on a page on our site, with the infamous message, Error 404 This page could not be found!
WordPress 404 Errors
We are constantly scanning our Google Search Console account to locate new 404 messages, so our team can quickly redirect them to relevant pages.
Of course, even as an experienced web development agency, we occasionally miss a 404 error message, as we’re humans, not robots (although, I do believe our team could use a robot, at times).
Tip: please ensure your 404 page has a button that says, “Back to Homepage”, so website traffic can continuously navigate through your site, with minimal roadblocks.
How To Find and Fix 404 Errors in WordPress
As you can tell, we’re placing a heavy emphasis on 404 errors, as it’s extremely important to find and fix these error messages, accordingly. It can have an impact on your website’s SEO performance, as Google crawlers might have difficulties scanning your website.
Finding 404 Errors
There are a few different software tools that will find 404 errors on your website, but ultimately, the best tool, in our opinion, is Google Search Console. You can easily pinpoint pages with 404 error messages, all within your Google dashboard.
Google Search Console will display a detailed list of every 404 error Googlebot is able to locate on your site. This includes the specific website URL so you can redirect it, based on our steps listed in this post.
Here’s exactly how you can locate the 404 errors:
First, you’ll need to log in to your Search Console account, so please make sure you’re already logged into your Google/Gmail account.
Once you’ve logged into your Search Console account, you’ll want to select the Coverage option on the left-sidebar, then select Excluded, and finally, please scroll down a bit, and select, Not Found (404).
On this new screen, you’ll see a list of 404 errors, marked Not found (404), with a full URL so you can see the affected pages, and take action.
We highly recommend keeping this browser tab open, so you have those URLs readily available when you move on to the next steps.
Fixing 404 Errors
There are several methods you can follow to fully remediate and fix any 404 error you come across on your WordPress site. We will go over, step by step, exactly how to fix a 404 error, following best practices.
It’s extremely important to follow these steps carefully and double-check your work, so all changes on you or your client’s site are done correctly.
Here’s how to fix the 404 errors:
Hopefully, you kept the browser tab open, as we had recommended earlier. So, let’s jump right into it. As you can see from our screenshot, we currently have 2 outstanding 404 errors that need to be fixed, immediately.
First, please log in to your WordPress dashboard and be prepared to install the Redirection plugin, which we recommend, for WordPress sites of all sizes.
After you’ve installed and activated the plugin, we’re ready for the juicy part- fixing those annoying 404 error messages. You’ll want to select the Settings option for the Redirection plugin so we can finally set up the page redirects.
Next, you’ll want to ensure you select the Redirects tab and then select Add New, so you can add a new redirect, which is exactly how you’ll fix the 404 error.
We will now fix the 404 error messages we located on our site.
You will see a field that says, Source URL, which is the URL of your 404 error page, so go ahead and copy/paste that URL in this field.
You will then place a relevant, working URL, in the field that says, Target URL, which means website visitors will be redirected to this URL going forward.
(Please note, it’s extremely important to double-check these URLs to confirm it’s the correct location you’d like visitors to be redirected to)
Once you’ve confirmed both the Source URL and Target URL are correct, you can then simply select the blue, Add Redirect, button to save the settings. After you’ve saved it, you should finally see the redirect added to the Redirects section.
If you feel like this process is way too complex and confusing, then we’d recommend contacting your web designer or SEO company, so they can thoroughly assist you with resolving all of your 404 errors.
When Should You Check for 404 Errors?
For small to medium-sized websites, with up to 100 pages, we’d recommend checking Google Search Console on a monthly basis, to review the latest 404 errors.
For larger WordPress sites, with over 100 pages, we’d recommend monitoring your dashboard on a weekly basis, to ensure your website doesn’t get cluttered with 404s.
Conclusion: Fix 404 Issues on Your WordPress Site
If you have a WordPress website, 404 errors are unavoidable, as almost every website makes changes to its web pages and/or URL structures. It’s an extremely time-sensitive task, as it can negatively affect your Google rankings, and create a frustrating experience for current and prospective customers.
Hopefully, you’ve absorbed all of the tips and recommendations in this post, so you can fix those pesky 404 errors on your WordPress site. If you’re still unsure on how to fix the infamous, 404 not found error in WordPress, then definitely save this post, so you can review it at a later point.
If you need assistance with fixing 404 errors on your WordPress site, please reach out to our team for a free website consultation!
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