Uh-oh. Are you looking at the pages of your website and seeing pages that say 404 not found? It’s difficult creating a website, particularly if you are doing it for the first time. It’s understandable that you might make some mistakes or miss a tiny detail. But unfortunately, those tiny details can mean big errors on your website.
So what does a 404 not found page mean? And how can you fix it? We’ll tell you how in this article. And if you need additional help, the web design experts at SEO Design Chicago are happy to assist you!
What is the Meaning of 404: Page Not Found?
404: Page Not Found means that the server that holds a website isn’t showing the website. That’s the technical definition. But why does a 404 error happen? It could be a result of moving a page, moving a page’s directory, moving a whole site, not adding 301 redirects, or even mistyping a URL. If you’re trying to see your own website and getting a 404 error, you need to check out your host server.
How Do I Fix 404: Page Not Found?
Next, we’ll tell you how to fix the problem. The 404: Page Not Found error is almost always the result of one of the five problems we mentioned earlier. You should be able to fix any of these issues on your server or in your own browser. Let’s talk about how to resolve each of these five issues:
Moving a Page
Did you add or move a page to your site recently? Maybe the page was put in the wrong folder. Check the pathway to the page you’d like to access, then check it against the file transfer protocol (FTP) service or content management system (CMS.)
If the page is in the wrong location, move it to the right one. Then, try to access it in your web browser. If that does not resolve the issue, it might be time to contact your website host. But usually, checking your pathways and URL can fix the problem!
Moving a Page’s Directory
If the web page itself is not the problem, maybe it is the page’s containing folder, which is also called the page’s directory. If you move a folder that contains web pages, each one of those page’s URL will also change. This means you need to access each page with its new URL. Check the names of each folder in your URL against what is in your FTP service or CMS. If they don’t, just retype the URL in your web browser. That should resolve the issue.
Moving Your Website
Did you recently move your whole website? This is also called rehosting it. A move can result in an 404 error while your site loads and settles into its new home. Though website hosts try to reduce website downtime during a move, it still occurs occasionally. If this is the issue, there are two fixes. One, just wait! Hopefully, your site will only be down for a couple of minutes. Two, if necessary, you can reach out to the new host of your website. They should be able to tell you when your site will be back up and running, and if not, they might have other ways to fix it.
Forgetting 301 Redirects
Another possibility is that the proper 301 redirects aren’t in place on your site. This can happen if you have recently moved pages, or your entire site. Luckily, it’s easy to resolve! A 301 redirect tells the visitor that your page has moved to a new URL. It also lets Google and other search engines know so that you don’t lose out on search rankings.
The other kind of redirect is a 302, but that one is temporary. It also doesn’t transfer SEO value, so it’s recommended to use a 301 instead.
If you need to redirect users to a web page with a new address, you need to implement a 301 redirect on the old URL. Otherwise, they will only see the 404 error.
Mistyping a URL
Oftentimes, it’s the most simple and obvious solution: before you get on the phone with your website host or go about any other elaborate fixes to your website, make sure you spelled your URL correctly! We all make mistakes when typing occasionally, and sometimes when you think your website is broken, it’s actually perfectly fine.
Still Need Help with your Website?
If you’re still encountering a 404 Not Found issue on your website, or you need any other kind of help with your site, contact us at SEO Design Chicago today! We offer website audits, website backups, website updates, and more consulting services. Our experts have years of experience creating and improving websites for our clients.