Have you ever clicked a link to only end up at a page that says that the page does not exist? This is a 404 error which means the link you clicked (or typed) is incorrect, the website was revised/renovated and no redirects were put in place or that the website owner has deleted the page without redirecting you to another page.
If your website hosting has not been set up with a custom error page, the visitor will be sent to a generic web host error page. This is very confusing for the visitor as they won’t know what to do next.
404 Error and Search Engines
If you have a bad link to a non existant page on your website (from another website or the search engine results) this can be bad news for potential visitors who have found you in the search engine results. The search engines find the link(s) in their index from visiting websites who have linked to your website or crawling your own web pages.
404 Error – Google
The Official Google Webmaster blog decided to help webmasters out by explaining 404 errors through the week of August 11, 2008. Here’s a list of the posts as of this writing:
- It’s 404 week at Webmaster Central – the announcement of Google’s 404 error series. This initial post covers how error response codes work.
- Farewell to soft 404s – explains soft 404 errors (when your web hosting error page is served up on error) and returning a 404 response code (showing your custom error page when there is a 404 error).
- More on 404 – Answers to questions Google receives about the 404 error.
- Make Your 404 Pages More Useful – Explaination of Google’s Enhance 404 Pages web page widget available through Google’s Webmaster Tools.
The posts at Google Webmaster Central blog include pictures to help you understand how 404 errors work. Check out all their posts on crawling and indexing.
404 Error – Yahoo!
Page Not Found Error Handling – Information from Yahoo! on handling 404 errors in Yahoo! Stores.
“You’re still crawling URLs that I removed ages ago.” – information from Yahoo! Search Help on handling a 404 error.
404 Error – Live Search
Live Search Releases Web Page Error Toolkit – this is an asp.net application for IIS servers.
Customize your 404 error pages with the Web Page Error Toolkit – more information on the Live Search Web Page Error Toolkit.
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