404 Errors: How They Affect SEO and How to Fix Them (+Cool examples)

2019/10/22 20:00

404 Errors and SEO

If you want to offers your website visitors the very best experience online, it’s important to pay attention to errors, including 404 errors.

404 Errors are one of the many common HTTP errors that online users encounter while browsing. Chances are, you’ve encountered a few 404 error pages in your lifetime and we generally don’t pay too much attention to them, but could they be hurting your SEO efforts?

404 Errors: Covering the Basics

A 404 error is a type of HTTP status code that a server returns when someone tries to access a URL that is no longer available. A 404 error is the opposite of a 200 response code, which is what a server returns when you successfully access a page.

So, what does Google have to say about 404 errors?

The good news is that Google sees 404s as completely normal, especially considering the fact that even Google has them.

404 errors page - Google

In most instances, a 404 error will not affect your site’s rankings, so it is safe to ignore them. If you find that you do have quite a number of errors, you may want to decide which pages are worth fixing.

The only time that a 404 error can affect your web page is if your site links to another site that’s returning a 404.

Creative Ways to Display 404 Errors

Since 404 errors are quite common, you might as well use them to your advantage. Here are a few examples of brands that have made their 404 error pages count.

  1. Lego

404 errors page lego

Lego’s 404 page fits in perfectly with the brand. There’s nothing technical about it and it’s very visual, which further encourages users to navigate to their home page instead of abandoning their browsing session. Users don’t actually care about why they’re seeing a 404 error, they just want to know where to go next.

  1. Behance

404 errors page - Benhance

Behance is all about design, so naturally, they got one of the featured designers to create a 404 error page that users could relate to. Pages like this make people feel like they’re part of a community and everyone wants to feel like they belong, which is why this is so effective. The creative CTA finishes off the page perfectly.

  1. Brett Terpstra

404 error's page - Brett-Terpstra

This page shows that a 404 doesn’t need to be a dead end, it can be used to encourage more pageviews too. The reason why this page works so well is because it contains keywords that are related to the content you were trying to access to begin with.

  1. Magnt

404 error's page - Magnt

This clever 404 page not only explains why you’ve potentially reached a 404 error page but Magnt has also used it as a selling tool by speaking to their strengths. They also give you a few options for pages you can navigate to, ensuring they have very little chance of losing the user.

  1. Steve Madden

404 error's page - Steve Madden

When an online user is already interested in what you have to offer, make sure that they have a reason to stay on your site, which is exactly what Steve Madden has done with their 404 error page.

  1. com

404 error's page - Com

This is another innovative and interactive page that encourages visitors to keep engaging with the site. Not only do you get to fire someone for interrupting your browsing but they have also found a creative way to encourage users to go back to their home page.

  1. 9gag

404 error's page - 9gag

Instead of encouraging users to head back to their home page, 9gag decided to ask them to download their app instead.

Finding and Fixing 404 Errors

If you do want to fix your error pages instead of ignoring all of them, here are the steps you would follow:

  • Login to Google Search Console. Once you are logged in, click on Crawl Errors under Coverage. You can also use a broken link checker tool such as Online Broken Link Checker.
  • Correct Broken Links. You can now click on each of the individual errors and decide whether or not you would like to fix them. The easiest way to correct a 404 error is to implement a 301 redirect but it’s important to be careful with this as too many redirects can slow down your site.

Depending on the size of your site, finding and correcting errors can be a time-consuming process but it can help your visitors have a better experience, which will also improve your rankings.