What is Error 404?

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Error 404

Browsing the internet is a common activity that has become an integral part of our lives.

At some specific instances of your web browsing, you must have encountered error 404. While visiting anonymous websites, error 404 is a common error that occurs while accessing a web page.

What is Error 404 – A Usual Phenomena

When the response of error 404 is given on the screen, it implies the difficulty faced by the server in displaying a web resource, particularly a web page.

The 404 error message displayed is a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) response code that is one of the most common HTTP errors.

When Does Error 404 Occur?

The conventional stimulus of an error 404 message becomes apparent when the website content is moved to another URL. It might also prevail if the website content is removed or deleted. However, there are few more reasons for the occurrence of error 404 that are listed as follows:

  1. The URL (Uniform Resource Location) or the website’s content like files, text, graphics, and images are deleted or moved to another site without adding a valid redirection.
  2. The URL to be used is created inappropriately. It might also occur if the URL is typed incorrectly in the search bar of the browser.
  3. The server liable to control the website is down or not operating. Even a broken connection with the server might be an issue sometimes.
  4. The concerned domain name is unable to convert into an IP (Internet Protocol) by the DNS (Domain Name System).
  5. A rare but probable reason is that the entered domain name no longer exists.

Sometimes even dead links prevail as the site administrator is unaware as to whether the content of a particular URL  is moved or deleted.

Various websites or web pages continue to appear in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) although they are not functional.

Different Ways for Displaying Error 404

Different browsers and servers make use of different terminology to display error 404. But the one mutual thing amongst all of them is the message they want to deliver. The following is a list of different ways for displaying the 404 error:

  • 404 Error
  • Error 404
  • HTTP 404
  • 404 Not Found
  • The requested URL was not found on this server.
  • Error 404 Not Found
  • 404 File or Directory Not Found
  • HTTP 404 Not Found
  • 404 Page Not Found

Impact of Error 404 on a Website

Technically, error 404 isn’t harmful to websites. But the impact of error 404 is surely not good for your website rankings and traffic. The two key factors of a website that get affected by error 404 are user experience (UX) and SEO. Here’s how error 404 affects a website:

  • User Experience (UX)

UX is related to the experience of a user while visiting a website. The UX of a website defines how easy it is for a user to browse and interact with a website. When you access a specific page of a website and encounter an error 404, it leaves you irked and you are likely to leave the website.

  • Search Engine Ranking and Performance

Google’s official stance to pages with error 404  is neutral. Google touts it as an organic aspect of a website and it makes no difference to the ranking of a website or web page. However, the presence of 404s can directly influence the ranking of a website in a negative way. 

When a user is directed to a web page that displays error 404, Google perceives that the web page is not available anymore and removes the page from its search index. It lowers the PageRank from links referring to the page, leaving the links worthless.

If there are plenty of links referring to inactive or non-existent pages on a website that yields 404 errors, you can lose out in PageRank.

Types of error 404

Usually, there are three types of 404 errors that are mentioned below:

  1. External 404s: This type of 404 error occurs when an external site has a non-functional link; either if it has been moved or the content has been removed.
  2. Outgoing 404s: This kind of 404 error occurs whenever a link from your site to any other site breaks either due to another site’s content removal or the error in the link address. Links always vaporize and have no control over other site’s content. Therefore, outgoing 404 errors are not uncommon. Frequent site assessment helps you to remain at the top of your outgoing links to ensure that they are reaching the intended page.
  3. Internal 404s: Internal 404 error occurs when a site is trying to link to some other page of your website that is non-existent. Apart from manually assessing whether the internal links are working or not, you can use dedicated tools to check your site for any internal 404 errors automatically. Broken Link Checker, Google Webmaster Tools, Screaming Frog, etc. are some of the tools to check for internal 404s errors.

How to Fix Error 404?

Identifying the 404 error is one aspect but what one needs to know is how to fix the error. Not all error monitoring and link checker tools accomplish this task. One needs to find tools that specify the location of broken links on the website. This makes it much easier to fix the broken links that are causing the error 404.

Nonetheless, here are some common ways to fix the error 404 that you encounter while visiting a web page or that exist on your website:

  • Refresh the Page

If a web page is displaying the error 404, you can try refreshing and reloading the page. You can execute it by using the F5 function key or by pressing ctrl+R on your keyboard.

  • Clear Browser Cache and Cookies

These terms are sometimes used interchangeably but they are certainly two different things. Cookies refer to tiny chunks of information that point out where you are located on a given site, what you like about the site, and the time spent on the website, etc. Whereas cache deals with creating temporary copies of images and other website content so that the website can load faster. However, as the size of the cache of different websites stored altogether increases, it hampers the operation speed of the browser. Clearing the cache of a browser boosts the speed of the browser. Before clearing cache, one must check the browser settings to assure that the passwords never get cleared by any means. Also, you can try clearing the browser cookies as sometimes they can also hamper the accessibility of websites.

  • Redirect the Page

The quickest and most efficient way to fix a 404 error code is to automatically redirect a user from the page with error 404 to another web page that is working fine. This task can be performed by using a 301 redirection. The 301 redirect is another HTTP response code that indicates to a browser that the required content has been transferred to another URL address.

  • Correct the Link

Making errors while typing a URL address is common and this may cause you to encounter a 404 error. In such a case, you need to cross-check if the URL you have typed is correct.

  • Restore Deleted Pages

Often while browsing, people might be searching for a webpage on your website that you may have deleted. Even external links prompt the audience to that specific webpage. You can always redeem a deleted page to resolve the issue. However, if you have deleted the page unintentionally, you have to restore it or redirect the users accessing the deleted page to another one having similar content.

Error 404 on Smart TV

Error 404 is the most common HTTP error encountered over the internet. On a Smart TV, 404 occurs when one attempts to access a website or a web application.

There could be several reasons that account for the error 404, including the expected web service or web page no longer exists and the security settings of the router block restrict access to certain websites.

It might be easier to resolve the 404 on a computer but it can be quite difficult to rectify on a  SMART TV. Users can take assistance from their respective Internet Service Providers to deal with the occurrence of the 404 error.

How to Use Error 404 as A Marketing Strategy?

Although an error 404 never occurs on an ideal site, with smart marketing strategies you can effectively utilize this drawback and turn it into an advantage.

Various businesses with an online presence use creative techniques to create a strong impression with their web pages having error 404. Before thinking of an idea, your primary concern should be sticking to the core color and design of the website. Then you can use the error 404 pages to showcase the idea and personality of your brand. This assures a strong appeal to the visitors of the website. You can use smart puzzles and appealing graphics to leave a positive impression on the visitors.

One can also integrate certain links in the page with error 404 to help users navigate to the active pages of the website.

Conclusion

Error 404 is a very common HTTP error that tells the unavailability of the web resources or web pages that an individual is trying to access. Numerous browsers use different ways to display the error 404. While error 404 can occur due to different reasons, there are certain steps that visitors or website owners can follow to fix the issue.

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