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Are 404 Pages Really Bad for SEO?

404 page is probably the most common error visitors encounter when surfing the internet. Ordinally, they don’t pay too much attention to them. However, they will feel frustrated and click on the back button or close the tab. In some way or somehow, it hurts your SEO as it reduces trust and traffic. This article will give you a brief look and the solution to this problem.

What Exactly Is the 404 Error Page?

It is a standard HTTP status code (a response code). As you try accessing an URL, the server gives back a status code to indicate the operation process. The most common status code is 200 if most of the web works fine.

Hence, reading this article now means your browser accessed our server successfully, and the server returned a 200 response code.

In contrast, if the client can connect with the server but can’t find the requested resource, there will be an error 404 status code. Generally, the requested page cannot be found at that particular address.

A page will load multiple resources. For instance, the requested page HTML/PHP file can be found, but some image resources have been deleted. In this case, the page’s text will return a 200 response code, while the missing image resources will return 404 errors.

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Do 404 Pages Hurt Your SEO?

It is stated that 404s will hurt your ranking and SEO. As a result, you should fix them at once. However, the truth is that 404s are somehow a normal part of the web. On the other side, they are actually helpful.

Think about this situation. If a specific place didn’t exist, would you like to be directed to other random places? Maybe not, huh? It’s the same for our websites. It’s a good idea if you set an old page that’s been deleted to be redirected to a new, relevant one. In contrast, it’s such a bad idea to redirect every 404 to your homepage. Please let your visitor feel free while surfing your site.

In theory, 404s get an impact on ranking. But not the ranking of your whole site. Google and other search engines will not index a page and return a 404 error code, as it does not exist. Thus, try to make sure your pages exist if you want them to be ranked.

However, it’s not so much the 404 pages that hurt your SEO but the links containing URLs pointing to the 404s.

As can be seen, these links create bad experiences. Normally, they’re called broken links. There wouldn’t be any 404 errors if there were no broken links. You could say that there is an infinity of 404s. Try adding a slash after your domain, type something random and enter. 404. However, if BOT or search engines can’t find any links pointing to 404s, the 404s are… double non-existent. Because they already don’t exist at the time.

Google has been pointing out that 404s are totally normal. It seems to be forgiving with them. That’s natural, considering that they have 404s of their own.

404 Page

How to Add/Customize a 404 Page

standard 404 page

Sometimes the platform might not return a 404 but a blank 200 page. Also, the design isn’t charming. The only option is to refresh the page… which doesn’t exist. As a result, it keeps pulling up a 404 code.

It’s a good idea to have a custom design for your 404 page, as it can create a better user experience. The experience of not finding what you’re looking at is horrible. Why don’t you try adding some humor to it?

Including a CTA (Call to action) to your 404 pages is critical.

Visitors will probably leave when they see a regular 404 without a call-to-action message. By the way, by inserting some links to some relevant pages, you can hopefully get some more traffic to your main pages.

Take a look at the following example of a 404 page. Big difference, huh? It might actually convince you not to be upset with us. Also, we have a pretty clear CTA that tells you to click on it. It links to the homepage.

404 page example

Be creative with your 404’s web design.  Having an excellent 404 design means you win the challenge of boosting your SEO.

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About Hồng Hoàng

Hồng Hoàng

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