Almost everyone who uses the internet has seen a 404 page at least once. Over the internet, there are hundreds and thousands of 404 pages, and users stumble on these pages once in a while.
So, what are 404 error pages? Are they important for SEO? Or are they something to worry about? In this article, I will be explaining what 404 pages are and giving tips about how to use them to your benefit as you take advantage of SEO.
What are 404 errors/pages?
Imagine that you are a new principal at some school, and you are looking for a student that goes by the name “Henry” because his parents have come around to see him. You are told that he is in the classroom on the left-wing of your office, but this isn’t true. Unknown to you, he really is on the right-wing of the office.
You would stand up and walk outside your office, down the lobby, and into a classroom on the left-wing. And you will go: “Henry, your parents want to see you.”
What do you think will happen? Well, every student in the class will turn their faces this way and that way, wondering when they ever had a Henry in their class.
You will repeat yourself again, but this time, you are going to get the answer: “Ma, there is no Henry in this class.”
404 error pages are just like that. They are just the server’s way of saying: “This page does not exist here.”
A 404 page is a page that pops up in response to a 404 error, which happens when someone on the internet clicks on a link that leads them to a page that does not exist on the internet. When the webserver searches and searches for a page’s URL but cannot find it, the server displays a 404 page.
404 pages may seem like the ultimate bad thing—and they can be when you do not know how to use them properly—but they really are not and can be used for your own good.
Before I go on, I would like to point out that 404 errors can almost never be avoided completely. There will always be URLs that crawlers cannot find. But what can be avoided is a shabby-looking 404 page. The custom 404 page that is made and put up by your server usually looks very shabby and rough, usually carrying the words: “An error has occurred.”
This kind of page throws users off and is just why you should try to create a custom 404 page of your own or, better still, redirect users to a similar content the current 404 error page used to have.
Your own 404 page should look beautiful. A beautiful 404 page will keep users from getting discouraged and then deciding to leave your site. It is also going to make sure that your site looks the same, not like some websites crawling with malware.
On your 404 page, include links to content on your website, and if you can, add some navigation.
You should know that Google does not include 404 pages in its index database. Google removes them from its index after some time. So, the main purpose of beautifying your 404 page is so that users can stay on your website without feeling the need to leave.
Google also says that these error pages do not hurt your site or count against you in its search results. But it is best to address them so as not to lose any intended traffic.