Did you know that 404 error(s) can cause your visitors inconvenience and you’re probably losing visitors due to this?
Fortunately, there is a simple tool to correct this error called simple 301 redirects.
In this article, we will go over what 404 is in detail as well as how to fix it.
What Is A 404 Error?
When a link on your website appears to be broken or no longer exists (doesn’t lead to an actual page), you will get the message of a 404 error.
This can happen when you decide to change the permalink (URL of a post or page).
How To Find 404 Errors For Your Website
I don’t recommend changing URLs on your website because you will have to wait for them to get indexed again.
There are times when you just absolutely have to (changing the title for rank testing).
However, when you start changing URLs for multiple pages, it can become very difficult to track.
Fortunately, Google has made it easy to track these sort of errors. If you haven’t signed up with Google’s Search Console, I suggest you do so now.
Once you’ve completed the sign-up and allow time for Google Search Console to crawl your website, it will eventually display ALL of your URLs that are missing and causing the 404 error.
Notice how the Google bot couldn’t crawl the URL because it points to a non-existent page?
It’s not really a big deal in terms of getting your page ranked again (redirecting the URL will fix this).
The biggest problem with 404 errors is when you already have a ton of visitors coming to it.
You don’t want your visitors to visit a page that doesn’t exist. It won’t do you or your visitors any good.
When Do 404 Errors Occur?
Let’s use an example for a better understanding:
Here on smartaffiliatehub.com, I have a contact me page with a permalink that looks something like this: smartaffiliatehub.com/contact-me
If I make any of the following adjustments, it can end up giving my visitors the 404 error:
- Changing the Permalink. Lets say I decided to change the Permalink to Contact-Eric instead of Contact-Me. This will trigger the 404 error when people click on the previous permalink “Contact-Me”.
- Completely deleting the page. A non-existing page will definitely trigger the 404 error.
It gives off a bad impression when your visitors are trying to access a page and ends up on the 404 error page instead.
Correct 404 Error(s) with a Simple Plugin
Simple 301 Redirects plugin can update and redirect your users to the right URL if it’s been changed.
There 3 kinds of redirection in SEO:
- 301 (Moved Permanently)
- 302 (Moved Temporarily)
- Meta Refresh
How To Use Simple 301 Redirects
Hopefully, you have installed the plugin by now.
The next step is going to your WordPress dashboard, locate settings, and click on 301 redirects.
This will only show up if you have the plugin installed.
Assuming you have installed the application, you can now create redirects for your broken URLs.
This ensures that your organic or referral traffic gets to the right place every time.
Note: The box on the left under “Request,” you don’t want to enter the FULL URL. You only want to type “/” and everything after it.
Example, if Google Search Console showed me a page with the 404 error (smartaffiliatehuberic.com/contact-me).
I will only have to input /contact-me under “Request.”
On the Destination section, you want to copy and paste the complete URL that you want to redirect your broken page to.
Before you click save, there is something called “Use WildCards.”
Enabling WildCards will allow page redirecting using .htaccess.
In simpler terms, it will allow you to redirect your broken links to a valid page on your website.
My Final Thoughts
Simple 301 Redirects is a great plugin to have for all website owners because you are eventually going to encounter 404 errors.
Let’s just say that if you plan on updating your website over time. You’ll need to redirect your URLs some time down the road.
Normally, you’ll want to redirect your visitors from the broken link to the updated link, but what if you deleted the page entirely?
I redirect my visitors to my homepage whenever I delete a post or page. Or you can customize a 404 page that can help point your visitors to the right direction.
Personally, I use Yoast SEO premium which includes its own redirection tool. But not everyone can shell out $89.00 per year.
I hope this was helpful. If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out and I’ll try my best to help you out.