The dreaded 404: the bane of all functional websites. A 404 is essentially a dead page, and does major damage to your website, especially if left unchecked. You’re using your website to spread information regarding your business, to garner interest, to earn an income or aid in earning an income. You simply can’t afford dead pages.
They’re not good news. When you get hit with a 404 error message, if they are indexed by search engines such as Google, it can lower your domain authority. Google uses 200 different factors when ranking your website, some of which are more important than others, but your domain authority is among the most crucial. A good SEO company should recognize and fix these errors right away.
That will harm their SEO game, but in the long-term, it’s not going to affect yours. In fact, having a proper 404 page can be beneficial. If someone came to your website through a link and their expected content is unavailable, your 404 pages can be used to retain their attention, and direct them to other awesome pieces of content or directories on your website.
Redirection a link, or using a 301 instead of a 404, is one of the best practices for SEO. If you’re not all about having a dedicated 404 page, utilizing a redirect can take users from a broken link, and turn them towards another piece of content on your website, or a totally different page. Here at 51Blocks, we utilize a WordPress plugin called Redirection to help with redirecting and avoiding broken links/pages.
SEO depends on proper practices, such as reducing and eliminating your 404 pages. Performing regular audits allow you to know when you’re hosting broken links, as well. When you’re promoting a link to another website, whether it’s as a citation or not, you’re telling your visitors that this is a viable, reputable link to click on. Then, they get hit with a 404 error message. When your website is promoting broken links, that can also hurt your domain authority. From here, you’re as a crossroad. You have a lot of outbound links, and you need to check them on a regular basis through an audit, or face the consequences of penalties from search engines for hosting bad links.
Apart from the technical and SEO aspects of 404s, there’s one major thing you have to consider: how your visitors will respond to a 404 error message. For the most part, clicking on a link and heading to a different site, and seeing their 404 error message, is just going to register as, “Okay, their link is broken.” However, when you’re dealing with internal broken links, you’re going to seriously upset your visitors, and potentially turn them away from ever giving your brand a second glance. When you’re linking one of your pages to another, you’re telling readers/views that they can click through to that page, and get additional information, or get the full scoop on something you references in another post. They get to an error message, and now, they’re just plain mad. Those with a basic understanding of how SEO and interlinking works will all come to one conclusion: they’ll know you’re not taking care of your website.
A single 404 message is not going to undo all that has been done, but it does seriously impact it. Fixing these errors and getting them off of Google’s 404 error index is crucial to regaining your domain authority, and staying on top of your competition. Your SEO game is all about seeing a return on your investment; 404s are a nightmare when it comes to ensuring the integrity of your investment. Any good SEO company will perform regular audits to ensure this never happens.
You’re running a business, promoting your products, and trying to make the sale. While your website is a crucial part of your marketing efforts, especially in today’s day and age, you don’t have the time to dedicate to auditing your website, fixing 404s, and all the tidbits in between. When you hear about SEO being a long-term game, this is one of the reasons. Your SEO strategy should always include auditing, fixing broken links, and performing maintenance on your website.
Your Denver SEO company is up to the task, from maintenance to development, and everything in between. Stave off the negative effects that come with broken links and 404s with consistent maintenance to ensure your website’s integrity, and upkeep its viability for maximum traffic, all with a single phone call to us. Find out how to keep your SEO game in-check and keep errors off your site.