WordPress 404 Errors: How To Troubleshoot And Fix them

WordPress 404 Errors: What Are They and How to Fix Them?

When users visit a page that doesn’t exist, they receive an error message telling them the page cannot be found. This is a WordPress 404 error and it’s one of the most common forms of website errors. Incorrect permalinks, broken links, or deleted pages can cause them. Not only does it result in frustration for users but also negatively affects your website’s SEO.

Fortunately, it is possible to troubleshoot and fix 404 errors in WordPress. In this article, we’ll look at the causes of 404 errors, how they can impact SEO and the steps you can take to resolve them.

Takeaways
  • When a webpage in a website is not found, it results in a WordPress 404 error that can negatively impact user experience and SEO
  • WordPress 404 errors often occur due to broken links, incorrect permalinks, or deleted pages
  • To resolve WordPress 404 errors, you can try different approaches, such as reviewing your permalink settings, utilizing broken link checker plugins, and diagnosing server-related problems
  • To resolve 404 errors on WordPress, redirect the page to a different URL, set up a customized 404 page, or recover the deleted page or post
  • Consider seeking support from a WordPress hosting provider to troubleshoot and fix 404 errors on your site, optimize performance, and prevent future errors.

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What Is a WordPress 404 Error?

When accessing a WordPress website, users may sometimes encounter an error message that reads “404 Not Found” or “Error 404.” This type of error occurs when a user attempts to access a page on the website that doesn’t exist or has been deleted. In other words, the page they’re trying to view is unavailable on the website, hence the “404 Not Found” error message.

WordPress 404 errors can happen for various reasons, including when users attempt to access an outdated link, mistype a URL address in their browser, or try to view a page that has been deleted from the website.

It’s important to note that the WordPress platform does not cause this type of error but rather a result of user error or an issue with the website’s configuration.

What Causes a WordPress 404 Error?

Several factors, including output language code EN, can cause a WordPress 404 error.

1. Broken Links

Broken links are among the most common causes of 404 errors on WordPress websites. Internal broken links occur when pages have been moved or deleted from a website, while broken external links occur when a page is linked to an outside source that no longer exists or has been replaced with a new URL.

When users try to access either type of broken link, they will be presented with a 404 error page.

In addition to broken links, incorrect URLs can lead to 404 errors on WordPress sites. If a user tries to access a page with an incorrect URL or mistypes the address of an existing page, they may encounter a 404 error.

2. Incorrect Permalinks

If your website has incorrect permalinks, it can be a major headache for users trying to navigate your site. Not only will they have trouble finding the page or post they were looking for, but if they use an incorrect permalink, they will be faced with a dreaded 404 error message.

Several different issues can cause incorrect permalinks. It could be that your site is using an outdated WordPress version, or you may have changed the permalink structure and not updated all the old pages and posts accordingly.

3. Deleted Pages

Deleting a page on a website can cause significant difficulties for users. This is because the deleted page was likely linked to other pages on the website, and when a user tries to access the page, they will get an infuriating 404 error message.

Not only is this bad for UX, but it also means that any traffic from external sources, such as search engines, will be wasted.

To avoid this, website owners should consider redirecting users to an appropriate page when a deleted page is accessed. This can help users find what they’re looking for and save them from frustration.

Note

Learn how to redirect pages from our insightful article Website Redirects: How to Implement 301 Redirect in WordPress.

4. Server Issues

Sometimes, a 404 error can be caused by server issues. If the server is misconfigured or overloaded, it may not be able to respond properly to the requests for content from WordPress. In this case, you could experience an unexpected 404 error on your WordPress site due to server errors.

You’ll need to contact your hosting provider for assistance in troubleshooting these types of server issues. They can investigate the issue, confirm if the server is misconfigured or overloaded, and provide a resolution.

5. Typing Errors

Have you ever accidentally typed in the wrong link or missed a letter while typing? If so, then you could be dealing with a 404 error!

404 errors can happen if someone types in an incorrect URL or makes a mistake when editing a link to their website. One misplaced comma or letter can take a user to an error page instead of the intended destination.

That’s why it’s important to be careful with any links you publish online, just in case someone makes a typo and finds themselves on a 404 page.

6. Plugin or Theme Issues

WordPress plugins or themes are not unheard of to cause 404 errors. After all, these products are made by third parties and aren’t always compatible. Conflicts between different plugins and themes can quickly lead to 404 errors that can be difficult to resolve without some detective work.

If you suspect a plugin is causing your 404 error, the best solution is to disable all plugins and test them individually. If a particular plugin causes an issue, you can look for an alternative or contact the developer for support.

Why Are WordPress 404 Errors Bad for SEO?

404 errors on WordPress can harm a website’s search engine rankings, which can affect its SEO. There are several reasons for this.

1. User Experience

When a user encounters a 404 error, it can be confusing and frustrating – after all, why did the page they were looking for suddenly disappear? This can lead to users leaving the website altogether or leaving negative feedback about their experience with your business.

This negative user experience is bad for SEO, as search engines see a high bounce rate as a negative signal. A high bounce rate indicates that visitors are quickly leaving the website and not engaging with the content, which can result in lower rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Tip

To ensure a smooth user experience and minimize the risk of errors, we recommend using a quality website builder. Website builders make websites easier to use and look better because they offer ready-made designs, simple editing, mobile-friendly layouts, and SEO optimization tools. Explore our list of the best website builders to find the right tool for creating a user-friendly website.

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2. Crawling and Indexing

Yahoo and Google, two leading search engines, view 404 errors as a signal that your website is not properly handled. As they crawl through your website content, these bots flag the pages with 404 errors as problems.

When the bots come across too many flags, it signals them that your website isn’t well maintained and may not be indexed correctly.

Additionally, if the bots encounter a 404 error while accessing important pages, such as your homepage or product pages, it can further damage your SEO efforts.

3. Backlinks

Ranking high on SERPs is essential to maintaining a successful website and good SEO practices. Unfortunately, WordPress 404 errors can hinder your efforts to achieve this.

The primary culprit behind this is the user experience they create - encountering a 404 error can be confusing and frustrating. This leads to users quickly leaving the website or not engaging with your content, which can cause SERP rankings to drop.

Too many 404 errors on a website make it difficult for search engines to follow and crawl through the links. This weakens any backlink strategies you have in place, making it harder to attain high SERP rankings.

How to Detect WordPress 404 Errors on Your Website?

One of the ways to detect 404 errors on a WordPress website is by checking the output language code;

1. Google Search Console

Why is your WordPress website getting 404 errors? It may be time to check in with Google Search Console. This free tool helps you monitor how your website performs in Google search results and provides information about crawl errors, which can include 404s.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘crawl errors,’ it simply means that a bot from Google could not access the requested page. This can happen for various reasons and includes 404s – pages that no longer exist or have been moved elsewhere on your website.

2. WordPress Plugins

WordPress plugins can be a great way to detect and monitor 404 errors on your website. For instance, Broken Link Checker is a popular WordPress plugin that scans your entire website looking for broken links and will alert you whenever it finds any.

The 404-page plugin provides an easy way to create custom error pages which can help improve the user experience when 404 errors occur. Redirection is another popular plugin that allows you to manage 301 redirects from within WordPress, helping reduce 404 errors caused by broken links and URL typos.

3. Website Auditing Tools

Website auditing tools, such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz, can help detect 404 errors on your website. These tools crawl your website and identify broken links, missing pages, and other issues that may cause a 404 error.

SEMrush allows users to crawl websites for broken links and easily identify 404 errors. With the tool, you can see the pages generating the most 404 errors, allowing you to prioritize which ones need to be fixed first.

4. Manually Checking Pages

Manually checking all the pages on a website can be time-consuming, especially for larger websites with hundreds of pages. But it can effectively identify broken links or missing pages that might lead to WordPress 404 errors.

To check if a page has been removed or moved to another URL, click every link on the website and check each page. If a page is missing or has been moved, you’ll get a 404 error message. This will help you identify which pages on your website are broken and must be fixed.

How to Troubleshoot WordPress 404 Errors?

To resolve WordPress 404 errors, follow these troubleshooting steps.

1. Check the URL

The first thing you should do when troubleshooting WordPress 404 errors is to check the URL. Ensure you are inputting it correctly and there are no typos or misspellings. If the URL is incorrect, update it and try accessing the page again.

Another common cause of 404 errors is a broken link on your site. To fix this, you can use various tools and plugins to find and update broken links on your website. A good plugin for this purpose is the Broken Link Checker.

2. Check the Permalinks

Permalinks are the permanent URLs for individual pages and posts on your WordPress site. Visitors may experience 404 errors when viewing certain pages or posts if these settings aren’t set up correctly.

Go to Settings > Permalinks in the WordPress dashboard to ensure your permalinks are configured correctly. You can choose from various URL structures or create your custom structure. Once you’ve selected it, don’t forget to click “Save Changes” before exiting the page.

3. Check for Broken Links

Broken links are among the most common causes of 404 errors and can cause many frustrating problems. Luckily, an easy way to determine if your pages contain broken links is to use a broken link checker tool.

These tools are designed to scan your website for broken links and help you quickly identify the problem. Once you’ve identified the source of the 404 error, you’ll be able to fix it by replacing or removing the broken link.

4. Check for Deleted Pages

Also, if a page has been deleted from your WordPress site, visitors will be unable to access it and may experience 404 errors. To fix this issue, you must update links pointing toward the deleted page and create a new page with the same content.

If you’re using Yoast SEO as an SEO plugin on your WordPress website, you can redirect any deleted pages to another page or post. This way, users will be automatically directed to the correct URL and won’t receive a 404 error.

5. Clear Browser Cache

Another possible solution to your WordPress 404 error woes is to clear your browser cache. This can help in cases where the page you’re trying to access has been updated, but your web browser still holds on to an outdated version.

Clearing your browser cache is pretty simple if you know how to do it.  However, the way to do it varies depending on which browser you’re using. For example, with Google Chrome, you only need to hit “Ctrl + Shift + Delete” to open the Clear Browsing Data window.

6. Check Server Configuration

Faced with a WordPress 404 error? Don’t panic! It could be something as simple as a misconfigured server. Contact your website hosting provider to check the server configuration if the issue persists.

You’ll want to get to the root of the problem to avoid seeing that dreaded 404 page in the future. This is where your hosting provider can help. They can check their server configuration and ensure it’s running properly.

If the server is misconfigured, that could be the source of your WordPress 404 errors. Your provider will be able to fix any issues and get the site back up and running again in no time!

7. Use a Redirect Plugin

If your WordPress website is throwing a 404 error, one of the best ways to fix it is to use a redirect plugin. This will allow you to set up permanent redirects in just a few clicks easily. You can either choose from existing plugins that are available for free or purchase one from an online store.

Once you have installed the plugin, you can set up a permanent redirect from one page to another. This way, your visitors will be automatically sent to a similar page if they encounter an error on your website.

This will also help improve your website’s overall user experience and provide a better browsing experience for all visitors.

How to Fix WordPress 404 Errors?

The following steps can be taken to resolve 404 errors in WordPress:

1. Update Permalink Settings

An incorrect permalink structure is among the most common causes of WordPress 404 errors. When visitors try to access a page on your website, the server looks for the requested URL and then sends back either an “OK” signal or a “404 Not Found” error if it can’t find what was requested.

If your permalink structure isn’t set up correctly, WordPress won’t be able to locate the requested page and thus returns a 404 error.

To check your permalink settings in WordPress and ensure they’re configured correctly, go to Settings > Permalinks in the admin dashboard. Here you can choose from several available options – such as “Plain,” “Day and name,” or “Post name” – or create a custom structure.

Once you select an option, click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the screen. This will update your permalink settings and ensure visitors can find all pages on your website.

2. Redirect Broken Links

If you find yourself in a situation where a page on your WordPress website has been permanently deleted or moved to another URL, you can use a redirect plugin to help guide visitors to the new page.

Redirect plugins make linking old URLs to new pages easy, helping visitors find what they’re looking for and keeping them on your website. They also help keep search engine rankings intact, as opposed to 404 errors which can cause a drop in visibility.

3. Restore Deleted Pages

If you accidentally deleted a page on your WordPress website, there is still a chance of retrieving it. Your hosting provider might have backup archives of your website that could aid in recovering the page.

However, if backups aren’t available or don’t work as expected, you can create a new page and copy the content from the deleted page. This is likely your best option if you’ve lost an important piece of information or don’t have access to a backup archive.

When creating a new page, use the same URL as the deleted one. This will ensure visitors can still find the page, and your site’s SEO rankings won’t be affected.

4. Fix Broken Links

Using a broken link checker tool is a quick solution to address the issue of 404 errors on your WordPress site. These tools crawl your website and identify any broken links that could be causing issues with visitors responding with 404 errors. Once identified, you can simply replace them or delete them as necessary.

5. Check for Server Configuration Issues

WordPress 404 errors can be frustrating, but they don’t have to ruin your day. With a few simple troubleshooting steps, you’ll be able to identify the source of the problem and get your website back up and running in no time.

Check the URL, permalink settings, broken links, deleted pages, browser cache, and server configuration to ensure everything is configured correctly so visitors don’t experience unnecessary 404 errors. With a bit of effort and patience, you should be able to get your WordPress website back up and running as quickly as possible.

6. Clear Browser Cache

When the page you’re trying to access has been updated, but your web browser still holds an outdated version, clearing the cache can help. The steps vary by browser but usually involve pressing certain buttons (such as “Ctrl + Shift + Delete” in Google Chrome). Once the cache has been cleared, try accessing the page again to see if it resolves the 404 error.

7. Use a Custom 404 Page

A 404 page should be tailored to your website’s design and include useful links that can help guide visitors in their navigation.

Additionally, it should provide a search box where users can look for whatever content they were originally trying to find. This helps improve the user experience and ensures visitors can still find content on your website even if they encounter a 404 error.

Creating a custom 404 page is easy with WordPress – all you have to do is create a new page in the WordPress admin dashboard, add in any additional design elements such as images and videos, and then set it as your 404 page in the WordPress settings. This way, visitors will be greeted with a friendly and helpful error instead of a blank white page.

Conclusion

WordPress 404 errors can be an annoying and frustrating issue, but there are plenty of steps you can take to fix them. First, check the URL for typos or misspellings. Then use a broken link checker tool to locate any broken links on your website that may be causing the problem.

If you accidentally deleted a page from your website, you can restore it from an archived backup or create a new page with the same content.

Additionally, check your permalinks to ensure they’re set up correctly and update any internal links pointing toward a deleted page. Finally, clear your browser cache if the updated version of the page is not loading, and contact your hosting provider to check their server configuration if the issue persists.

Next Steps: What Now?

Further Reading – Useful Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes 404 Errors?

When the URL of a website is changed, or the content of a page no longer exists, an error known as 404 occurs. The web server may also be responsible for this error. In addition, malicious actors can cause these errors when looking for vulnerabilities on your site.

How to Fix a WordPress 404 Page?

The most effective way to fix a WordPress 404 page is to check the URL for typos or misspellings, use a broken link checker tool to locate any broken links and clear your browser cache. Restoring deleted pages from backups or creating new pages with similar content can help.

What are the problems?

Problems caused by 404 errors include poor user experience, website rankings being affected, and visitors being unable to access certain pages or posts on the WordPress site.  Additionally, malicious actors can use these errors for nefarious purposes.

How do I troubleshoot my browser?

If you’re experiencing browser issues that could be causing 404 errors, the first step is to check your internet connection. Make sure that it is stable and running without interruption. Additionally, you should clear your browser cache by following these steps: open your browser settings, select Privacy Settings, choose Clear Browsing Data, and select the time range you want to delete data.

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