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Three SEO Friendly Strategies to Fix 404 Errors

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Website 404 errors are inevitable. Google is aware of that fact. These errors do not cause a website to be deindexed. Decrease in rankings does not directly result from 404 errors. Google does place delivering quality results of organic search as its main priority. If Google bots crawlers continually find non-existent page links, it will eventually become evident to Google that maintaining a user-friendly experience is not a concern of the website owner. Simply put, if Google cannot crawl a website, it won’t. Lack of traffic to the site results.

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Google Webmaster Tools

Determining the number of links pointing to a missing page is among the best approaches to use in handling 404 errors that are new. The broken links can come from a number of sources. Some sources include search engines results, marketing materials, email messages, other websites or the owner’s own website

To access information of all server requests that return a 404 error, register the site with Google Webmaster Tools. Google Webmaster Tools is highly recommended because error reports are sent directly from Google. Google Webmaster Tools alerts a website owner when a sharp increase in the number of 404 errors occurs. Regular weekly or monthly monitoring allows redirects as the 404 errors occur.

Keeping an eye on the logs will let the website owner know if a sudden surge of 404s appears. The errors being fixed by the owner is preferable to letting users fill out broken link forms. It is not the job of visitors to notify the owner about broken links to a website.

articleimage328 Customize a 404 Error Landing Page

Customize a 404 Error Landing Page

As part of the overall SEO strategy, 404 errors are a piece of importance. They usually do not get the attention they deserve. The average visitor does not know what a 404 error message means. Default messages are often too technical. They are poorly constructed for the most part. Visitors are left frustrated. These are the best arguments for constructing 404 error landing pages.

Creating a custom 404 error page is highly recommended. This will facilitate visitors’ ability to continue the search with less hassle. Customize 404 Not Found errors to reflect the website brand being attempted to navigate. The design of the error page should match the website. Important navigational components of the website such as footer, header, and sidebar should be included. Users are able to navigate easily to other website pages. The search box from the website should be included. Instructions to type relevant keywords should be given.

Providing 404 header status on the error page is important. If the 404 header status is not provided, search engine problems are created. Pages that have 404 server header status that return a 404 are also the only ones trusted by search engines. If 404 is not being returned, those pages are unable to be removed from the search engine index of Google.

Here are some suggestions for an effective, yet compact look for the landing page. Simplicity is important. An explanation of why a user landed on the 404 page instead of the intended page should be present. Some sort of apology that recognizes the importance of the user’s time should be made. When creating a landing page the ‘404’ does not have to appear on the page. Words that subtly tell visitors the requested page no longer exists are all that are necessary. A too little and too much information balance must be reached. Showcasing the entire site navigation will doubtfully be very helpful. If the number of links presented overwhelms an already lost user, those links are futile.

Link building opportunities are provided when users land on a 404 error page. Links to similar pages being attempted to visit should be provided. The 404 error page headers and footers should include service or product landing pages. Similar page links should include only important product, category, or page links to the website. Provide a home page link and links to recent articles and popular searches. If a blog exists, a link should be provided for it.

The landing page can be funny, creative, or unusual. Google provides guidelines for customizing a 404 page. Regardless of the material put on the landing page, making the page useful to visitors should be kept in mind.

An alert of 404 error on a website can be fixed by finding the mistyped link source and performing an edit. A 301 redirect can also be put in place. The 301 redirects the incorrect link toward the web address that is correct. Not putting a 301 redirect in place may cause a business to lose customers. People who have bookmarked a page or used another website to link to it will not be redirected if a URL for the website is changed or if a page is deleted or moved. Ensuring customers end up in the right place is important. A 301 redirect also passes along link equity that Google has assigned to a page.

An SEO strategy using 404 link reclamation begins with crawling competitors’ sites and looking for 404 errors. Find the links for the error pages. If similar pages or resources do not exist on the owner’s website, they should be created. The webmasters of sites linked to the 404 pages should be contacted and informed of the broken page. An offer of a link to the owner’s website instead of the broken page should be made.

There are types of material that should not be placed on the landing page. Advertising should not appear on a 404 error landing page. Neither should there be complex script or anything that makes a call away from the page. The requested resource is in risk of not being returned timely, which could lead to platform integrity loss. A server may crash. Because of low volume traffic, advertising is not beneficial. Significant impressions are not going to be generated. The overall ad value and yield will be driven down because of low click-through rates generated by the inventory.

Automated widgets should not be inserted in the landing page. When crawled, they can create a loop that returns another 404 error page. The crawler can be hurt. It may avoid a site in the future. The website owner’s server can be harmed.

articleimage328sitemap

Sitemaps

Websites that currently do not have site maps need to create them. They are visual outlines of pages found within the site. A quick way to assess the structure and size of the website is appreciated by many visitors. With one or two clicks, they can access wanted information.

A similar benefit is provided as an SEO strategy. Websites are crawled by search engine robots regularly. Pages within the site map are often missed because of poor hyperlink and navigation structure. A site map, created and submitted to search engines, allows search robots the opportunity to spider and index entire sites using a few clicks. This is a cost-effective SEO strategy.

The benefit increases when a site map is implemented on a 404 error page. Instead of getting an error message, a table of contents that has been navigationally optimized appears. A sale or conversion can result. Search engine placement is soundly solidified. A site map also directs users to detailed site navigation, in a way, that does not make the page appear cluttered.

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James Parsons

I'm an avid blogger on SEO, social media, and design. When I'm not working with the awesome guys at AudienceBloom, I'm writing for my personal blog at JamesParsons.com or working on my next big project.

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