What is a 404 Not Found error and how to fix it correctly

Dec 02, 2015
What is a 404 Not Found error and how to fix it correctly

Each page on the Internet has its own address - a URL. When a person wants to go to a new page, the browser accesses the server for its content. If the site is working, but the requested URL is not found, the server reports a 404 error.

Since you can go to the web page either by a link, or by opening a browser tab, or by searching in the address line of your browser, then there are a few reasons for 404 error:

  • Poor communication.
  • A mistake in typing the address into the browser, such as a letter being left out.
  • A link leading to the page was outdated or incorrect.
  • The page was moved, and the automatic transfer to the new address is not configured.
  • The page has been deleted.

The requested site also cannot be opened if:

  • The server generates another error.
  • System administrators closed access to it, using the file hosts on hard disk C, thus preventing anyone with a PC from seeing that part of the site.
  • A computer virus. These include those malicious programs that not only block the resource but redirect to another one. Be careful.

What should a visitor do?

  • Try to reload the page a couple of times (click on the symbol ⟳ or press F5).
  • Try to find mistakes in how the URL was written.
  • Use the site’s search bar.
  • If a document was on the website, you can find its copy on a specific date in the web archive.
  • If the page already exists but is not being allowed to display, you can use the Anonymizer or change the proxy (by using the same principle as the Browser extension friGate). However, because you are accessing the page through an intermediary, it is not safe to enter passwords.
  • Tell the site developer (or the website support) your problem, so he can take further steps to fix it or warn other users.

What should the webmaster do? How can he fix the 404 error?

  • Remove broken links on the site.
  • When you change the domain site or URL, you should customize the page redirections (301 redirections) from the old URL to the new ones. Sometimes visitors will use a remote or erroneous URL, which you can find using information from the Google Analytics statistics. Other times they will use linked authoritative sources, which you can see in Google scanning, to redirect to similar materials.
  • Do not redirect all the Not Found web pages to the Main page. It won’t help the users find the right information
  • You need to add the line in the file .htaccess for the visitor to see the HTML-page with recommended navigation options, instead of a white page with the error message «Not Found» or the pages with the host information: ErrorDocument 404 http://site.com/404.html

How a Page 404 should look:

  • Server response code should be «404 Not Found»
  • It should include a logo or other company symbols so that the user know that he is on the right site
  • It is preferable to have a link to the main page and the main sections of the site
  • It should have a site search
  • It should contain a feedback form that says «You can contact the system administrator of the site and describe the problem.»

The organization of the working capacity of the site should be constant and careful. Even if you are one hundred percent sure that there are no errors on the site, you should take precautions in advance, so that if something does go wrong your visitors will still be able to use your site comfortably.

It's time to fix 404 error on your website

We hope that this article has helped you solve the problem of 404 «Not Found» errors. And if you yourself cannot resolve the problem, please contact us at any time and Website Support will do their best to solve your problem.

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