Your friend’s birthday is next week. To celebrate, you want to buy the perfect gift. So, you do a quick Google search, get several page results, and click on a site with the best reviews. But to your disappointment, the page can’t be found because the link is broken. So, you click the Back button to find another business to patronize.
As a website owner, the last thing you want to do is interrupt the visitor experience, or worse, miss out on potential customers because of a broken link. Non-existent pages increase your bounce rates, drop your page search rankings, and confuse new visitors.
Traditionally, 404 pages are used to provide visitors with a clever message saying they reached a broken link. However, it doesn’t guarantee the visitor will take action to go to another page on your website. To ensure visitors stay engaged, you can automatically redirect them to another relevant page on your website. But that too can be a huge headache if you run a complex website, as it can take a lot of time to pinpoint every single 404 error.
WordPress 404 redirect plugins can help you handle all your 404 errors without having to manually change them. The plugins can automatically redirect visitors to a relevant page, log all your 404 errors, and give you creative control to customize your 404 page.
In this post, we’ll cover how 404 errors occur and how 404 redirect plugins can help your business provide a better visitor experience.
Why is Your WordPress Website Showing a 404 Error?
A 404 error page displays when a specific page can’t be found on your website. This page usually alerts the website visitor that the requested page is no longer available or does not exist. A default 404 page looks something like this:
Changes in your website’s permalink structure can lead to 404 errors. For example, if you change your URL from https://yourwebsite.com/blogpost to https://yourwebsite.com/blogtopic/blogpost, you end up with links that don’t point to a specific address, so your visitors see a 404 page and not the intended content.
A missing or corrupt .htaccess file creates 404 errors, too. In WordPress, this file rewrites your URLs to make them readable by people and search engines. When you create a custom taxonomy or new custom post type, you can get a 404 error if you don’t update the .htaccess file.
The good news is that you don’t have to interrupt the visitor experience with a 404 page. Let’s explore how to remedy this issue.
How to Fix 404 Errors in WordPress
If your 404 errors are due to permalink changes, there’s a quick fix. You’ll just flush (or refresh) your permalinks on your website.
Go to Settings > Permalinks in your WordPress admin dashboard. Then, scroll down without making any changes and click Save Changes.
WordPress will automatically update your .htaccess file. Now, check your website for any remaining 404 errors. If they still remain, your next option is to use a 404 redirect plugin.
Considered the ultimate solution for redirects, this plugin lets you set up flexible redirect rules to send your visitors to a relevant page. You can also redirect to a specific page based on the visitors’ device or referral source. WordPress Ultimate Redirect stands out from other plugins because it offers an auto-redirect feature that sends visitors to the nearest match URL.
404 to 301 is a simple plugin that will redirect all 404 errors. For each 404 error, you can set a global redirect or custom individual redirect. This tool also saves you time by finding the broken links on your website. Then, it keeps a log of each 404 error so you can easily track and fix them. Plus, you can receive email notifications about any 404 errors.
The 404 Solution plugin gives your visitors a better site experience by redirecting 404 URLs to any existing page. To save you time, the tool displays a list of page suggestions to help you redirect to a relevant page. It also automatically removes redirects when the URL matches a new page or post.
This plugin automatically detects any 404 pages and redirects them to similar posts based on title, post types, and taxonomies. If a similar page can’t be found, you can use the fallback feature to redirect to your homepage or a custom URL, or display a default 404 page.
Say goodbye to 404 errors with the 404 SEO Redirection plugin. This easy-to-use tool can redirect all 404 error pages to your homepage or any desired page. It will log your 404 errors and notify you when a URL is redirected. There’s also a detailed redirection history for you to analyze later.
Manually creating redirects for individual URLs is a time-consuming task. This plugin saves you time by redirecting all 404 pages to your homepage. So, when visitors land on a broken link, they will be redirected back to your homepage. It takes less than five minutes to install and configure this plugin.
With this plugin, you don't need to add any hard coding to your pages. Instead, you can easily select any page to be used as a 404 page. Shortcodes are available to enhance your page with recent posts, similar posts, or a Google search widget. You’ll also have access to a log of your broken links.
Unlike the above-mentioned tools, the 404page plugin does not create redirects or additional server requests. This plugin allows you to set up a helpful custom 404 error page to keep visitors on your site. Just activate the plugin and change your permalink settings to Plain in your WordPress dashboard.
It’s important to redirect your visitors to a relevant page. If none exists, you still can capture your visitors’ attention with a custom 404 page. That way, you don’t lose quality traffic, and you provide helpful information to your visitors. Here are a few tips to build an effective 404 page.
Clearly state that the page they’re looking for doesn’t exist.
Add a search box to help visitors find what they need.
Keep the branding of your 404 page consistent with other pages on your website.
Encourage visitors to read your latest blog posts.
Add humor, like a funny image, to engage your visitors.
Several 404 errors can interrupt the visitor experience, leading to high bounce rates. Rather than fixing each error one by one, an effective solution is to use a redirect plugin for WordPress. These plugins keep track of your 404 errors and redirect broken links to related pages. So, take the next steps to improve your website.
Originally published Oct 25, 2019 11:58:49 AM, updated October 25 2019