When it comes to managing the SEO of your website, one of the common issues you might encounter is the dreaded 404 error. These errors occur when a page on your website cannot be found. Not only can they negatively impact your search engine rankings, but they also provide a poor user experience. Let’s explore what to do about 404 errors in Google Search Console and provide practical solutions to address them effectively.
Understand the Nature of 404 Errors
A 404 error indicates that a page is missing or has been removed from your website. It can occur due to various reasons, such as changes in URL structure, deleted pages, or broken internal/external links. Before taking any action, it’s crucial to identify the root cause of the 404 errors to implement the right solution.
Some Common Reasons of 404
- The sitemap includes pages that are no longer available
- Internal webpages contain links to non-existent pages
- Spam pages (External) are linked to non-existent pages
- Webpage has a misspelled URL
- The content has been relocated, but no redirect has been implemented
Utilize Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a powerful tool that provides valuable insights into your website’s performance and indexing status. To identify and address 404 errors, try to follow these steps:
- Access Google Search Console and select your website property
- Navigate to the “Coverage” report under the “Index” section
- Look for the “Error” category, specifically the “Not found (404)” errors
- Analyze the list of URLs returning 404 errors and gather necessary information
Redirect or Restore Missing Pages
If you find that important pages on your website are returning 404 errors, consider to redirect or restore.
Redirect: If the page has been permanently moved to a new URL, set up a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one. This ensures that users and search engines are directed to the correct page. Implementing redirects helps preserve SEO value and ensures a seamless user experience.
Restore: If the page was accidentally deleted or removed, restore it from a backup if available. Alternatively, recreate the page with the same or similar content. Make sure to update any internal or external links that might have been pointing to the old URL.
Update Internal Links
Internal links are an important part of website navigation and user experience. When a page returns a 404 error, it’s essential to update any internal links that point to that page. Locate the referring pages and replace the broken links with the correct URLs. This not only helps users navigate your website but also prevents search engine crawlers from encountering dead ends.
Fix Broken External Links
External links pointing to your website are valuable for SEO and referral traffic. However, if those links lead to 404 errors, it can harm your website’s reputation and rankings. Take the following steps to address broken external links:
- Identify: Use tools like Google Search Console, Ahrefs, or Moz to identify external links that point to 404 pages on your website.
- Contact Webmasters: Reach out to the webmasters of the referring websites and request them to update the links with the correct URLs.
Custom 404 Error Page
Designing a custom 404 error page is a proactive approach to handle 404 errors and improve user experience. Create a visually appealing and informative page that guides users back to relevant sections of your website. Include a search bar, popular links, and a clear call-to-action to help visitors find what they are looking for.
404 errors are a common occurrence on websites, but they can be effectively managed and resolved. By utilizing Google Search Console, implementing proper redirects, updating internal and external links, and creating a custom 404 error page, you can improve user experience, preserve SEO value, and maintain a healthy website. Regularly monitoring and addressing 404 errors will contribute to better website performance and a positive impact on search engine rankings.