If you are a webmaster or blogger, you must know how important it is to limit 404 – Not Found Errors. They are just a drain on the number of visits your website commands; a lost opportunity. You know, how hard it is to generate traffic to your website, and how frustrating it would be to let these visitors land on a 404 page.
Why fixing 404 Not Found Error is important
Not only are these 404 error pages a wasted opportunity, they can affect your SERP rankings also. If the Search Engine spiders encounter too many 404 error pages, they may stop indexing your pages and frequency of visits to your site gets reduced.
The problem is generally not so great for static HTML websites. But for today’s dynamic database driven sites, a small mistake in the core theme files can cause a series of 404 pages. This has happened to me on this very blog.
One day, while I logged-in to my Google Webmaster Tools account, I just noticed that it was showing as many as 700 “404 error pages”. It was shocking.
A quick analysis revealed that it is because of some errors with my theme file. One link was configured incorrectly and was reflecting on all the category pages, tag pages, archives pages resulting in hundreds of 404 links and pages. I was able to relate it to the decreasing traffic on my site in those days and many days taken to index my new posts. Usually every new post on this blog gets indexed by Google within half an hour of posting, but in those days, it took days, sometimes even one week to get it indexed.
How to Fix 404 Not Found Error Pages
Of-course, the practice is to constantly checking for any such 404 errors and fix them fast. No question about that.
But sometimes, you forget to check them, or you are too busy to check them regularly. Most of the 404 error pages happen when least expected. So, it is always better to create a rule so that all your visitors, which encounter an 404 error on your website, get directed to the correct page. This page can be anything; your advertisement page, your sitemap, your homepage or your search page.
How to do the redirection of 404 error pages
There are many ways in which you can do this. The simplest of them is to use an .htaccess redirect rule.
But if it frightens you to use .htaccess and you think it is too geekish, then head on to Errorlytics.
Errorlytics is a tool with which you can quickly and easily, using plain English rule writing, create redirect rules for your 404 error pages so that both users and search engine spiders get 301 redirected (search engine friendly redirect) to the correct (working) page that you want them to see or index.
You just have to register your website, upload some code to your server, and you are all set. Then, as the 404 errors roll in, you can correct them with redirects, or choose to ignore them if they are truly meant to be 404 errors. You get an RSS feed of your latest errors, or you can get a nightly email digest of the top 404s on your site. This keeps the problem of 404s in your inbox, and makes is fast and easy to take action to repair them, potentially saving site visits and page views.
They have got cool plugins for CMS packages like Drupal and WordPress. Just a few clicks and you are all set.
They have a dashboard, where you can check the 404 errors encountered and redirections executed. This is a real useful tool for all webmasters – especially those that are about to move their site from one CMS platform to another. This process usually changes all your site URLs – meaning there is a LOT of redirect writing in your future. Make it easier with Errorlytics.