Google: When You Should Fix Pages 404 Status Codes

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As a website owner, you’ve likely encountered the dreaded 404 error page at some point. A 404 error occurs when a user attempts to access a webpage that no longer exists or has been removed from your site. While it’s not uncommon for websites to have some 404 errors, having too many can negatively impact your website’s user experience and search engine rankings. In this article, we’ll explore when you should fix pages with 404 status codes and how to do it effectively.

Why Fix 404 Errors?

Before we dive into when to fix 404 errors, let’s discuss why it’s essential to address them in the first place. Here are a few reasons:

1. User Experience: 404 errors can be frustrating for users, leading to a poor user experience and potentially causing them to leave your site.
2. Search Engine Rankings: Google and other search engines may view a large number of 404 errors as a sign of a poorly maintained website, which can negatively impact your search engine rankings.
3. Link Equity: When a page with a 404 error is linked to from other websites, the link equity is lost, which can harm your website’s authority and ranking.

When to Fix 404 Errors

Not all 404 errors are created equal, and some may not be worth fixing. Here are some scenarios where you should prioritize fixing 404 errors:

1. High-Traffic Pages: If a page with a 404 error was previously receiving a significant amount of traffic, it’s essential to fix or redirect it to a relevant page to maintain user engagement and search engine rankings.
2. Important Pages: If a 404 error occurs on a critical page, such as a product page or a key landing page, you should fix it as soon as possible to avoid losing conversions and revenue.
3. Pages with Valuable Backlinks: If a page with a 404 error has valuable backlinks from other reputable websites, it’s crucial to fix or redirect it to maintain the link equity and authority.
4. Pages with High Search Volume: If a 404 error occurs on a page that was previously ranking for a high-volume search query, you should fix it to maintain your search engine rankings and avoid losing traffic.

How to Fix 404 Errors

Fixing 404 errors can be a straightforward process. Here are some steps to follow:

1. Identify the Error:
Use tools like Google Search Console or Screaming Frog to identify pages with 404 errors.
2. Determine the Cause: Investigate why the page is returning a 404 error. Was it removed or renamed? Is it a broken link?
3. Fix or Redirect: Fix the page by restoring it to its original state or redirect it to a relevant page using a 301 redirect.
4. Update Internal Links: Update any internal links pointing to the original page to point to the new or redirected page.
5. Monitor and Test: Monitor your website’s performance and test the fixed or redirected page to ensure it’s working correctly.

Conclusion


While 404 errors are a natural part of website maintenance, it’s essential to prioritize fixing them to maintain a good user experience and search engine rankings. By identifying high-traffic pages, important pages, pages with valuable backlinks, and pages with high search volume, you can focus on fixing the most critical 404 errors and improve your website’s overall performance. Remember to fix or redirect pages, update internal links, and monitor and test your website to ensure a seamless user experience.

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