IT Chimes Blog

404 Error & What it means for You

February 9, 2015

While surfing in the seemingly infinite ocean of the world wide web, users are always wary of encountering the 404 error dead ends. Imagine the frustration of the user who has been looking up some important information regarding a rare product or service. And just when, after a long turmoil of searching the belly of the internet, the user finds one relevant site that just might contain the information he or she needs, BAM! A 404 page error appears and ruins the entire process and user experience.

A “404 – not found” is usually a sign for a broken link and it has the potential to harm your website. Ideally, a good website is considered to be that which has no broken or dead links, thereby reflecting zero 404 errors.

A 404 error, in gist, is basically “The 404 or Not Found error message is an HTTP standard response code indicating that the client was able to communicate with a given server, but the server could not find what was requested.” and this article provides certain valuable insights regarding the effects of the same on user interaction.

As I had iterated above in the example, 404 errors can hurt potential users and visitors of your website should they encounter a dead link. Hence, it is crucial as the owner and the developer of the website, to ensure there are no 404 errors and dead links present in the site.

Incoming Broken Links

Links are the arteries and veins of the internet and links build authority and online dominance for your site. Therefore, in case your site has a missing page or a never created page, then you could loose valuable juice in-flowing from a highly authoritative site.
Broken Links don’t help as they are not listed by Google.

Outgoing Broken Links

Similarly, even if the situation entails the reverse of the above mentioned process i.e it is your site that has a broken link, then the search engine crawlers of Google could penalize your website’s rankings due to the link being broken.

A rare few number of dead links cropping up randomly might not result in a severe blow to the site but it should never increase.

Identifying and repairing Internal Broken Links

Your WordPress web site has a build-in capability to generate 404 error reports. Upon entering a non-existent address into the address bar and hit enter. If your WordPress theme is complete, you may see a 404 error page.
The way to repair broken links in this situation is to use Redirection plugin. It helps the WordPress to identify URLs more easily and effectively. With more accurate link check and monitoring system, you can easily identify and filter out your website of all invalid 404 error links.

Identifying and Repairing Outgoing Broken Links

There is a free to use plug-in for WordPress called the Broken Link Checker that helps to identify and locate all broken links within your blogs and redirections that exist pertaining to your site. It is highly useful especially, when you are slumped up in your content rich page or blog, and you don’t have time enough to skim through it till the very end looking for dead or broken links.

All you need to do is to click on the Settings at top right corner of the interface and configure them as you see fit. Especially, go to “Look for links in” and look out for comments. If your server is under or overpowered you can set the Server load limit under the advanced settings section.  There is also an option under the general tab, which lets you to stop search engine bots from crawling your site or page for broken links automatically.

Gaurav Sabharwal is the Business Head at IT Chimes. He is an avid blogger, and likes to pen his thoughts about building, managing and leading teams in IT, top-level decision making and time management. Find him on Twitter @GauravSabh

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