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Error 404 and other HTTP errors

Vojtěch Bruk
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Your dream customer will find your page in a Google search. They click on it. And when it loads, they get a 404 error. Ajay. He'll probably leave right away and think twice about ever coming back. Google won't be happy either, and if it sees that a few people have left your site in…

Your dream customer will find your page in a Google search. They click on it. And when it loads, they get a 404 error.

Ajay.

He’ll probably leave right away and think twice about ever coming back. Google won’t be happy either, and if it sees that a few people have left your site in a second (because there’s an error on it), it will make people’s lives easier and send your site (at least the ones with the error) to the Internet sinkhole.

Which is a very sad place.

Fortunately, error 404, like other HTTP errors, can be resolved. And it’s often easier than you might expect.

Let’s take a look at the most common erroros.

How to find out where the error is

Even if you get an error on a page, it’s always good to know how you got to the page – whether it was directly or if you were redirected somehow.

So before we get into the analysis of specific errors, I’d like to introduce the httpstatus site, where you can type in the initial address and see what all happens between when you hit enter and before you end up on the error page.

That way you’ll be able to better pinpoint the root of the problem and not just go after the symptoms.

And now let’s get to the most common erroros – status codes.

Error 404

Error 404 is a Not Found error.

As the title suggests, the page was not found. Therefore, no content exists on the site under the given url.

In English, the phrase: the page you are looking for does not exist

is often used to describe a 404 error.

How can an error 404 occur?

If a url on your site shows this error, you probably deleted the page and did not set up a redirect elsewhere – or the page never existed in the first place.

It could be that you accidentally made a typo in the url during creation, didn’t notice it, and are now linking to the supposed correct address, but it doesn’t exist.

How to fix error 404?

You will have no choice but to visit the administration, and if the page does not exist you will have to recreate it.

If the page exists at a different url, then you just need to change that url.

If the page doesn’t exist and you don’t want to create it, just set up a redirect (using htaccess or a plugin like Rank Math SEO) to some relevant place on your site.

Relevant place is crucial in this context, as Google developers themselves mention in this video:

If you don’t set a redirect to a topically related and meaningful page, the effect for search engines will be very similar to if you set no redirect at all.

In other words, set a redirect from a subpage about charity to a subpage promoting an online casino and see how long that page stays indexed in search :).

That would be a 404 error, so what other status codes might you encounter?

751

http 200

Codes starting with a two indicates success.

Code 200 then directly means that everything is OK. As a visitor, you basically have no chance to see this code. However, it is useful to know it because, for example, when using various web auditing tools (Ahrefs Webmaster Tools, Collabim, etc.), code 200 is exactly what you want to see for most pages on the site.

More on the http 200 code.

75 2 301

http 301

The 301 code says that the page has moved to a new address. Therefore, the crawler will treat all existing links as if they should be redirected to the new address.

In other words, it does not assume that the page should reappear at that address in the future.

The browser automatically redirects visitors to the new address, so they don’t even notice the redirect.

More about the http 301 code.

75 302

http 302

Code 302 says that the page has moved, but only temporarily. So, unlike 301, it is likely that the page will return to that location in the future and there is no need to migrate the links and its history to the new page.

However, if a 302 redirect has been on for a long time, Google may start treating it as if it were a 301 redirect.

More on the http 302 code.

75 500

http 500

Figure 500 indicates a server error. This means that visitors and robots cannot get to your site at all or see anything on it.

More about the http 500 code.

75 303

http 503

Failure 503 is a “temporarily unavailable” error and means that the server is working properly, but cannot execute the request at the time. However, this code informs visitors that it should be able to execute the request in the future.

More about the http 503 code.

Word by Conclusion

Particularly if you’re moving a site, you want to make sure there are no errors.

Tools like httpstatus, Collabim and Ahrefs Webmaster Tools can help you monitor individual addresses effectively.

For redirects, I can highly recommend the aforementioned Rank Math SEO plugin, which can also continuously monitor 404 error pages.

If you run into any problems – typically codes starting with 5xx I would always start by contacting the hosting and webmaster.

You’ll see how often these people can resolve the problem quickly.

Anyway, just don’t despair and don’t panic. Everything can be solved and you can definitely do it with a calm head!

Let me know in the comments how you approach redirects within your site?

About author

Vojtech Bruk

I enjoy exploring things in depth. That's why I write this blog. And I also try to make my clients as much money as possible), that's the second reason.

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