Error 404 on the web: What should you do?

Introduction

let’s say it’s a festive season right now and you are so excited to do some online shopping for yourself and your family. You decide to buy a traditional suit and in the same line, you started searching for the best clothing brands and Hurray! you found a brand of your choice and convenience. In order to shop the suit, you visited the brand’s website and an error message as follow:

Boom! And suddenly your enthusiasm turned into coldness and into anger (if you were too much excited to buy the suite). 

Here in this article, this 404-error message is explained in a simple manner that can be understood by a layman.

 

What is error 404!?

404 is basically a Hypertext Transfer Protocol status code. The very fundamental meaning of this error message is that the site or the page that you were trying to visit is not found on the client’s server. These are further two meanings possibly coming out of this statement. The requested URL is not found on the server because

1. The URL you are requesting has never been created on this server.

2. the URL was created on this server but it no longer exists or the page corresponding to this URL has been transferred to any other URL.

Whatsoever the reason, the page you are looking forward to shopping is no longer accessible by this requested URL.

Do note: the server itself is reachable but not the page/ URL that you are requesting.

It’s completely upon the website developer to decide how to design and display the 404 error message. That means there is no fixed specific error message text which will be displayed once you encounter a 404 error.

You might receive the HTTP 404 error in the following possible pattern:

  • A 404 error has occurred
  • Error 404
  • An error occurred while trying to load [URL].
  • This server could not find the requested URL [URL]
  • 404 Not Found
  • There is an error 404 not found
  • A 404 error occurred
  • 404. The requested file or the requested directory could not be located. Sorry!
  • Not Found HTTP 404
  • An HTTP 404 error has occurred
  • 404. Page not found

Is 404 error a browsers specific error or it can occur in any possible web browser?

Regardless of the error message of the text, the meaning of the 404 error is unambiguous. Any browser or operating system can display these 404 error messages. It doesn’t matter you are familiar with which browser or operating system. Almost all of them display a 404 error message inside a browser window just in a way the web pages display 404 error messages.

In Internet explorer there are two potential reasons behind the “the webpage could not be found” error message. The first reason is the “404 HTTP error”. The second reason is 400 which means a bad request. As this error message could be the result of any of the HTTP errors, you need to check whether Internet explorer is referring to 404 or 400 by looking in the title bar of the webpage.             

As discussed earlier this error message can occur on any operating system or any web browser. As a result, If you open links in Microsoft Office, you will receive a message telling you that the item could not be found (HTTP/1.0 404). This error appears as the code 0x80244019 or as the message WU_E_PT_HTTP_STATUS_NOT_FOUND in Windows Update.              

404 Errors and their causes:

In technical terms, an Error 404 is a client-side error, implying either a typographical error or the page has been removed from the website, which should have been obvious to you. 

In technical terms, an Error 404 is a client-side error, implying either a typographical error or the page has been removed from the website, which should have been obvious to you. It’s good to know that In the case of Microsoft IIS web servers, the server numbers may provide more detailed information about 404 Not Found errors, as in HTTP Error 404.3 – Not Found, which means a restriction on the MIME type of the requested file.

HTTP 404 errors impacts Search Engine Optimization.

Websites’ ranking and reputation can be tarnished by HTTP 404 error messages. If a site has many 404 errors, search engines such as Google and Bing will have a negative impression of it. When crawlers confirm that 404 error codes are being returned frequently, they assume the site isn’t well maintained and needs great maintenance.

Note- Crawlers in technical dictionary essentials means an indexing program that systematically browses the Internet for data.

When there are too many 404 error pages on a site, Google may reduce its placement in the SERPs and/or stop indexing the site entirely. Consequently, the website will lose a significant amount of visitors. Having broken links on a site or having an invalid landing page (the page viewed from the search engine results) causes the visitor to substantially lose trust in the site. During this problem, users will no longer bother to search the site since they’re unsure if the desired content is still available.

In simple words, it’s the reason behind the 404 error that decides whether the error will have an impact on SEO or not. When a visitor accidentally types a URL and receives a 404 error – SEO isn’t affected. However, if you have errors specifically due to broken URLs, this will inhibit Google’s ability to properly crawl and index your site, being detrimental to your SEO. A 404 error may also prevent Google from crawling the content on your site if your permalink issue is the culprit. Essentially, resolve 404 errors as quickly as possible.

404 Not Found Error: How to Fix It

  • The easiest fix for the 404 error is to press F5, click the refresh/reload button, or try typing the URL in the address bar again.
  • Even when no real problem exists, the 404 Not Found error can appear for several reasons, so sometimes refreshing the page will often resolve the issue.
  • You can discover the page by using one of the popular search engines. It’s also possible that you have entered the wrong address, in which case you should run a Google search or Bing search to find the correct URL. After you have found the page you are looking for, update your favorite or bookmark in order to avoid the HTTP 404 error in the future.
  • In the event you suspect the 404 message is yours, please clear your browser’s cache. Clearing the cache on your tablet’s browser might help if, for example, you cannot access the URL from your phone but you can from your tablet.
  • You might also want to clear your browser’s cookies or at least the one(s) related to the website in question if clearing the cache didn’t work.
  • A 404 error can usually only be caused by changing your DNS servers, especially if the website is available from other networks (such as your mobile phone provider) or someone at another location.
  • If your ISP or government filters/censors websites, then you are more likely to experience 404s on an entire website. It is a good idea to try another set of DNS servers if it does happen. Other than this there is no potential reason possible behind the 404 error message on the whole website.
  • Get in touch directly with the requested website. They should be able to tell you if they have removed the page you are looking for if you’ve received a 404 error. The staff will be glad to hear from you so they can fix the problem if they have moved the page and are not redirecting visitors to the new page.
  • Make sure the URL is correct. There is often an error associated with incorrectly typed URLs or links that lead to an incorrect URL and as a result error message is displayed.
  • Using the URL, try moving up one directory level at a time until you locate something. If you received a 404 Not Found error when visiting www.web.com/a1/a2/a3.htm, move to www.web.com/a1/a2/. Go to www.web.com/a1/ if you don’t see anything here (or an error). There should be something in this list that will help you find your search result, or at least confirm that it is not available.
  • The last thing you can do is wait if you’ve tried everything else. Although it doesn’t sound fun, it may be the only option in some cases, especially if you’re certain the 404 error shouldn’t be happening (e.g., you think that the page should be located at the URL you provided and others see the same issue).

Lastly, if you are hosting a website of your own venture and are willing to fix this error on your own website then simply do the following. When you notice that your website contains broken links, redirect or fix them. 404 errors can result from deleted pages, which need to be restored or redirected to new content.

There are many reasons why you might receive 404 errors if you are using WordPress. You can simply fix individual posts and pages that have broken links. If the problem affects the entire site, update the permalinks by heading to the Permalinks setting on your WordPress dashboard.

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