A 404 error is commonly known as a “Page Not Found” error. It means your browser couldn’t find the page you were looking for. The special message will vary depending on the browser you’re using. But it will almost always contain the “404” code or some “page not found” message.
Websites can also create custom 404 pages. We’ll go through what a 404 error is. We will talk about what may cause one on your site in this post. We’ll show you how to solve it. Let’s get this party started!
- 1 What is the 404 Not Found Error?
- 2 What Exactly Does Error 404 Not Found Mean?
- 3 What Causes WordPress Error 404 Not Found?
- 4 Variations of Error 404 Not Found
- 5 The Effect of Error 404 Not Found on SEO
- 6 The Effect of Error 404 Not Found on Site Performance
- 7 What You Should Do Before Tackling the WordPress 404 Error
- 8 How to Fix 404 Errors in WordPress
- 9 Fix for Local Servers
- 10 How to Make Your Own “404 Not Found” Page
- 11 How to Track 404 Errors in the Future
What is the 404 Not Found Error?
The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) defines the 404 Not Found error as follows:
According to the 404 response code, the origin server was unable to identify the target resource’s most recent representation. Or it is unwilling to reveal the existence of one.
A 404 status code does not specify whether the absence of representation is temporary or permanent. As opposed to the status code 404, the 410 (gone) code is suggested. The origin server understands, presumably by some configurable method. Situations such as these are likely to sustain.
When you or one of your visitors visits your website, your browser requests the webserver. And it gets data in the form of an HTTP header. HTTP status codes are used in the HTTP header.It also states “what happened” at the time the request was submitted.
Most of the time, the request is successful. And the HTTP status code is never shown. However, if something goes wrong. And your web browser will generally display a message with the HTTP status code. It indicates the specific issue. The Error 404 Not Found message is the outcome of that procedure.
What Exactly Does Error 404 Not Found Mean?
It implies that the client was able to connect to the host (your website’s server). But it was unable to locate the requested resource (e.g., a specific URL or filename).
For example, suppose someone attempts to browse yoursite.com/post-name. But the slug post-name has no content. The visitor will then receive a 404 error. If your web server is operational, the requested resource does not exist.
What Causes WordPress Error 404 Not Found?
You can encounter this error on all of your site’s content. It’s usually because of a problem with your WordPress site’s permalinks.
You can only see it on specific pieces of content. It’s most likely because you altered the slug of a piece of content without putting up a redirect. Furthermore, the 404 error isn’t necessarily bad. It’s only bad when it interferes with usability. And sometimes, things are simply beyond your control!
For example, a person may inadvertently put the incorrect URL into their address bar. In that scenario, they’ll still see a 404 error. But there’s no underlying issue with how your site is set up.
This is the intended answer. And you can design your own unique 404 pages to direct users to the correct location (we’ll show you how later).
Variations of Error 404 Not Found
You may see a different message for this issue. Because different browsers show error messages differently. Other frequent variants are as follows:
- “404 Not Found.”
- “404 Not Found” error message.
- “Abbreviation for HTTP Error 404 is HTTP Error 404”.
- “Nothing Found”
- “Page Could Not Be Found.”
- “On this server, there was a problem locating the URL requested.”
- “The page could not be located.”
- ‘We’re sorry, but we weren’t able to locate the page you requested.’
- There was a problem with this server’s ability to locate the requested URL. That’s all we’ve got.
- 404 ERROR PAGE
The Problem 404 Not Found message is also distinct. Many websites may construct a bespoke page to resolve the error rather than displaying one of the above messages.
Custom 404 pages are also included by default in specific WordPress themes. As a result, you may not see the error message at all. Many websites will instead use amusing or creative 404 pages.
The Effect of Error 404 Not Found on SEO
The 404 Not Found error has no intrinsic detrimental impact on SEO. As a result, it relies on what caused the problem. It may have a negative effect.
For example, if a visitor misspells a URL and receives a 404 error. Then there will be no adverse effect on SEO. However, if you have individual problems due to incorrect URLs, Google will not crawl your site effectively. It will have a lousy SEO effect.
Further, if your site’s 404 errors are caused by an issue with your permalinks, Google will not crawl any of your material. To put it another way, always resolve 404 errors as soon as possible.
The Effect of Error 404 Not Found on Site Performance
Many people are unaware. The sites that create a high number of 404 errors might quickly experience speed difficulties. Since these replies are not generally stored.
We saw this a lot on more significant sites. And it can be a substantial issue if you inadvertently advertise or receive a spike of viral traffic to a 404 page. We automatically cache 404 pages for 15 minutes. It reduces the impact of 404 queries on site performance.
So, let’s say you create a new page that shares a URL with the cached 404 pages. It will automatically clear the cache so that your visitors can see the new page right away.
You may also quickly examine the most common 404 errors. Some smartphone icons, such as /apple-touch-icon.png, are missing from the site. An example of this may be seen in the sample below.
These are very certainly in the code of a theme or plugin that is being searched. There were however no real icons included in the package. As a result, the server returns a 404 error because it cannot locate the resources.
You may also check for 404 errors in Google Search Console. Or you can install a third-party plugin that records 404 errors, such as Redirection.
However, keep in mind that plugins like this influence performance as well. It is far preferable to use a server-level tool. These mistakes are problematic since many 404 pages consume a lot of resources. A hefty 404 page should be avoided for large sites. Create a basic 404 template. It should be feasible, avoid additional database queries.
What You Should Do Before Tackling the WordPress 404 Error
It’s a good idea to backup your website and database before altering your permalink settings or—htaccess file. In this manner, if you inadvertently break something. Then you may return your site to a working condition. Backups are a breeze if DreamPress hosts your website. DreamPress automatically backs up your whole site every day.
It ensures that you always have a current copy to work with. With a few clicks, you can also generate a manual backup.
How to Fix 404 Errors in WordPress
WordPress page not found problems may vanish on their own in some circumstances. This is usually the case if they are the result of an issue with your web hosting provider.
We recommend that you force-refresh your website after giving it five or ten minutes to sort itself out before proceeding with any serious debugging.
Suppose the error persists for an extended time. Then it is reasonable to infer. There is an underlying problem with your website. In such a scenario, let’s go over three possible answers one by one.
An issue with the way WordPress creates your permalinks. It is one of the most prevalent reasons for the WordPress 404 error.
As you may be aware, WordPress gives you numerous choices for styling the links in your posts and pages. You can arrange the platform to utilize simple numeric links. You can make the title of each post the URL:
In any event, when you see a 404 error on a WordPress post. Then the first thing you should do is reset your permalinks.
There are two methods for doing this: one through your dashboard and one through FTP.
Suppose you have access to your dashboard. Then you should proceed with the remaining steps in this section. Otherwise, you should go to procedure number two.
If you can access your dashboard, begin by going to the Settings>> Permalinks tab. Once you’re in, make a note of which structure your site is currently utilizing.
You’ll need to alter it momentarily to reset WordPress’ permalink settings. But you’ll change it back right away.
Select the Plain option under Common Settings for the time being, and then click the Save button at the bottom of the page:
The page will be refreshed. Then you may go back to your previous permalinks type and preserve your changes. That’s all there is to it when it comes to reorganizing your WordPress permalinks.
Now, go ahead and try to navigate your website as you usually would. Examine the pages that previously returned WordPress 404 errors. And determine if they remain. Pat yourself on the back if the problem has been resolved. You only needed one shot to repair it!
When you make modifications to the structure of your WordPress permalinks, then they are stored in a file called htaccess.
This file regulates how WordPress communicates with its server. And how it creates URLs for your pages.
Suppose you can’t access your dashboard because of the WordPress posts 404 issues. Then you’ll need to edit manually– htaccess to reset your permalinks.
To begin, connect to your website through FTP and browse to the WordPress root folder.
This is the location of your WordPress installation. It is usually in a folder called public_html or www, or is named for your website:
Now open that folder and look for the htaccess file. If you’re using FileZilla, then do right-click on the—htaccess file. And choose View/Edit from the menu.
You will receive a copy of the file on your computer. Then, in your default text editor, open it. You may now make any modifications you wish to it.
Nothing in this document should bother you if you don’t understand anything in it. You shouldn’t make any modifications until you’re sure about them.
You may use the normal WordPress.htaccess code, which looks like this:
That is a blank htaccess file with no changes. That is, it will undo whatever modifications you have made to your permalink structure.
Back up the contents of your old. htaccess file. And then replace it with the code snippet above.
After that, shut your text editor and save the modifications to yours. htaccess file. Suppose you wish to replace your existing one. htaccess file with the copy you just changed. Then FileZilla will prompt you.
Accept the prompt, and that’s all there is to it! You just reset your WordPress permalinks manually without causing any problems.
Go ahead and try to re-access WordPress at this point. The 404 problems should be gone now. It is excellent news.
However, unless you want numeric URLs for your posts, you should return your permalink structure to its previous state.
Remember that you may modify the appearance of your permalinks by clicking on the Settings>> Permalinks page on your dashboard.
Once you’re in, select the structure your website utilized before the 404 fiaschi. And then save your modifications. After that, everything should be back to normal.
As previously stated, it depends on their settings. Sometimes plugins and themes might have an impact on your WordPress URL structure.
Suppose you attempted one or both of the preceding solutions. And still, the WordPress 404 problem persists. Then it would be best if you disabled your themes and plugins.
According to whether or not you have access to your dashboard. There are two ways to do this. If you have access. Then go to the Plugins>> All Plugins page and repeat the following steps for each of your plugins:
- Click the Deactivate button to the right of the plugin’s name.
- Examine your website to determine whether the 404 error still exists.
- If the problem persists, reactivate the plugin you deactivated.
- Repeat the process with the following plugin in the list.
Your aim here is to remove each plugin one by one as a suspect. You could disable them all at once. But in most cases, a single plugin is causing your issues.
If removing one of your plugins resolves the problem. Then you have three options. You can check for updates.
And keep the plugin temporarily disabled until an update is available. Or you remove it and seek an alternative.
If you’ve verified all of your plugins, and none of them are to fault. Then ensure that your active theme isn’t causing the 404 problems. Because you only have to verify one article.
This procedure is significantly faster. Go to your Themes tab and change the active theme to anything else:
Check to see whether the WordPress 404 issue has been resolved. If that’s the case, you’ll have to decide whether to seek an update or a new theme.
Switching WordPress themes might be time-consuming. But it is worthwhile if your existing theme is causing issues.
Suppose you do not have access to your dashboard. Then you can disable your theme and plugins directly using FTP.
To accomplish this, open FileZilla and browse to the public Html/wp-content directory. There are many directories here, two of them are named plugins, and the other is called themes:
First, navigate to the plugins directory. You’ll see that each plugin installed on your website has its folder. Pick one of those folders, right-click it, and select the Rename option:
Change the name of the folder to something like Akismet disabled so you can still recognize it. WordPress will disable the plugin simply by altering the name of the plugin folder.
Check to see whether the 404 problems have been resolved. If it isn’t, rename the folder to its original name. Then repeat the process for each additional plugin in the directory.
Suppose the problem is caused by one of your plugins. Then you should be able to handle it by now if they all come back clear. Then you can go to the wp-content/themes directory.
Once inside, locate and rename the folder containing your current theme, exactly like you did with your plugins:
Your theme will be deactivated if you deactivate yours, as WordPress always requires an active theme. This may affect the appearance of your website. But don’t worry, it’s just temporary. If the error has been resolved, you may need to find a new theme. However, if it isn’t, feel free to rename your theme’s folder. So WordPress recognizes it again.
This is an added extra step. Suppose you have material that has been relocated or renamed and therefore no longer exists at the prior URL. Then you should set up some 301 redirects from the old URL to the new one.
The simplest method to accomplish this is to use a WordPress plugin such as Redirection.
This tool will let you quickly put up the redirects you require. It’s also entirely free and simple to use.
Designers and developers frequently install WordPress on their desktops. And then test it on a local server. Suppose you wish to use beautiful permalinks. Then you must activate the rewrite module in your MAMP, WAMP, or XXAMP’s Apache settings.
Suppose you want to create your own unique 404 error page. This is a rather straightforward process. The procedure entails adding one line to the .htaccess file to direct the error to a specific page, followed by the creation of that page.
Also Read: 35 brilliant 404 error page designs
In the future, it may be helpful to pay attention to which queries are producing 404 problems on your site. This may be useful to you:
- Find broken links that direct visitors to a non-existent resource. If possible, you’d want to do everything you can to fix those links.
- Check out which pages Google has difficulty indexing. Then you’ll want to figure out why Google is trying to crawl a page that doesn’t exist. Set up a redirect if necessary.
- Troubleshoot performance difficulties caused by 404 errors.
You may use Google Analytics to create a custom report. And it will track 404 errors from external URLs. A proper lesson on the subject may be found at Rebelytics.
Suppose you wish to utilize a WordPress plugin. Then the Redirection plugin described above can help you monitor for 404 issues from your WordPress dashboard.
You may also use a third-party audit tool, such as Ahrefs to check your WordPress site for 404 issues. You may even program this to run regularly.
Option 4: Google Search Console
Finally, via Google Search Console, you may monitor 404 problems encountered by Google’s crawlers. After you’ve validated your site with Google Search Console, navigate to Crawl Problems Not Found to see a list of 404 errors that Google has encountered.
This is by far the simplest method. It’s also the fastest because it doesn’t require any third-party plugins or further scanning of your site. Google bots are already crawling your site daily. So why not make use of the information they currently provide?
The WordPress 404 error may appear to be simple, yet it may do significant damage if your visitors are unable to locate the pages. If they want, they may seek assistance elsewhere. This means less traffic and maybe fewer conversions.
Fortunately, there are several ways to resolve this issue with WordPress. Such as:-
1. Reset the Permalinks on Your WordPress Site
2. Restore the .htaccess file in your WordPress installation
3. Turn off all WordPress themes and plugins.
4. Create a 301 Redirect for Content That Has Been Moved or Renamed.