Magento 404 SEO Error is an HTTP status code that tells us that the requested web page was not found on the server. It indicates your web browser was able to communicate with the site’s server but could not load the web page resources and files, that you initially wanted.
In this blog post, we’ll get to know why error 404 comes up? what causes them? and how we can fix them to reduce bad user experience. Moreover, we will find whether Magento SEO 404 Page Not Found errors have any impact on SEO rankings or online sales.
Incoming / Outgoing 404 Error
But first, we need to understand the types of 404 errors that occur on the web. We can classify the 404 errors depending on – where and how they are originating. Whether it is caused by your own website or did some other websites are causing it.
Let’s understand the incoming 404 error first. So whenever your website’s webpage URL is hyperlinked on other websites and the user clicks on them, reaches on your website to find out not what they are looking for, it’s an incoming 404 error.
You cannot track and fix all the incoming 404 URLs, as they can be used anywhere on the web by anyone. But, yes you can check the server log report to find out those URLs that the users clicked on them and saw 404 pages on their screen.
Maybe there’s a typo mistake who added your link to their content, or what if your product page is no longer available, or you have removed the content purposely. For incoming 404 errors, it is advisable that you set up 301 redirections to similar pages to display relevant content that the user will be looking for.
EOL / Obsolete Product – 301 Redirect
Allow me to explain this with an example, I was reading Apple’s press release news article where they informed the public about the launch of new iPhone models in September 2018. There’s a link (https://www.apple.com/iphone-xs/) mentioned in the word “iPhone Xs”.
I was hoping to view the detailed information about the iPhone Xs product. But instead of that, when I clicked on it, now the URL redirects me to the iPhone category page (https://www.apple.com/iphone/).
This is a common practice followed by many online stores and retail businesses. So whenever a product reaches its end of the lifecycle, the product page and content are taken down. Further, the 301 redirections are set, so that, newer range of products can be showcased to customers.
Outgoing 404 Errors
When you add an external website link in your content and that link becomes no longer available, it’s an outgoing 404 error. Since you are the one who has provided another website’s URL, so it is your responsibility that you must fix this issue.
Imagine you’re providing an important address or a contact number or email address that your friend needs it.
And when he/she goes to that address and finds a dead-end, dials that number and hears no ring, or sends an email and gets a bounce message. You can get the idea of how angry your friends will be to meet you next time.
Similarly, Google and other search engines care about its users. They want to make sure that the web page users are visiting are valid and provide relevant information as needed.
So while fixing outgoing errors, you need to make sure, you’re carefully checking the spellings, add links from trustworthy websites, and also look for any internal 404 as well.
But What Causes 404 Error Pages?
There can be many reasons why we see the 404 error on the website. Let’s understand one by one causes of broken/dead link Magento SEO 404 in detail listed:
Typo Error / Mistyped
There are times when we are writing content and include external or internal links in it. We forget to check the URL correctly after publishing. We should always double-check all the URLs that we have included in our content before making it live.
Many online users and customers do make typo mistakes, enter misspelled words during the search. You have the autocorrect feature in your Magento 2 online store, to redirect customers to accurate results.
Restructuring the Website
Whenever we are revamping our website, changing design, page navigation, etc. These things also sometimes affect the old URLs listed previously.
There are can many variations in the URLs for a page. Caniconail URLs, duplicate URLs need to be taken care of whenever we are doing major changes on the site.
What if the main domain or entire website is now moved to a different address. This can cause a lot of 404 dead links. Mapping one domain name to another is a complex task.
There are so many web pages with internal/external links and then there are page navigations and redirections. (Ask the expert for Magento migration)
Server Down /Network Issue
There can be a possibility that the entire site is completely down. Or there can be server end issues, badly configured server, and hosting or network-related issues. If the main site is down, then it is clear that all its web page links will also not be visible.
Web Page / Product Page Deleted
As previously explained in the iPhone Xs example, how the page is now redirecting to the category page. But what if the site owners don’t provide any redirection at all and delete the page.
Or the product is disabled or deleted from the online store backend. Its product page URL will also get disabled and not available to anyone anymore.
What if there is a change in the URL address. Words in the URL has an edit, new words added, or complete web page link is changed. There are cases when we change the blog title or product name, it also changes the URL as well.
Too Many Redirections
We add redirections to old URLs so that users are automatically transferred to new pages. But changing URLs frequently, and adding multiple redirections to it, is not good at all. This can also cause a 404 error as well.
Multiple URL redirections confuse web users and search engine crawlers as well. It gets difficult to recognize which URLs were original or whether redirections were set correctly or not.
Non-Existent Page/ Purposely /Security Issue
You must take extra measures to protect the admin access. What if someone is trying to login to the admin panel by typing random guesses. You should never set an easy to guess URLs for admins or other personnel.
In a typical Magento installation, the Admin URL and path is immediately below the Magento base URL. The path to the store Admin is one directory below the root.
Default Base URL: http://yourdomain.com/magento/
Default Admin URL and Path: http://yourdomain.com/magento/admin
Although it is possible to change the Admin URL and path to another location, any mistake removes access to the Admin and must be corrected from the server.
Impact of 404 Error on E-commerce Equals Lost Sales?
This is a critical part of this article. What if your product page is indexed on Google search or other affiliate sites and now it is showing 404 error. If a buyer is coming to your web page and finds nothing on it, what will he do?
The impact of 404 URLs especially for e-commerce sites is crucial. All your product pages should be active and accessible to customers. One of the major causes of losing sales can be your customers are actually not able to get on to the product page.
This further increases the bounce rate of your entire site, that frustrated customers may not come back or try to search on your website. Instead, he may go back and look for similar websites that are offering the same product.
Landing on the 404 error page will not help the buyers in any way. Instead, what online store owners should do it to show some links to popular categories, popular products, or other pages.
Bad User Experience
When someone visits any link and finds a 404 error message, it leaves a bad user experience to the visitors. This can make the user leave the site immediately and cost you dearly.
Because of this reason, many site owners generally place humorous/ funny images or quotes to uplift the visitor’s mood.
Arriving on the 404 error page can be due to many reasons as discussed. Either it has happened intentionally or may be temporarily down due to the server or network issues. Whatever is the reason, this gives a poor experience to the site visitors.
Although there’s only a small percentage of users who arrive on the 404 pages. Nevertheless, site owners should make sure that any lost visitor’s experience should not be ruined.
Businesses should invest time and creativity and consider the 404 error page as important as any other web pages – product page, category page, homepage.
Search Engine Page Rankings
Does 404 impact SEO, does 404 hurt SEO rankings, are 404 pages bad for SEO? These are questions that are asked by many webmasters and site owners. Let’s check what Google has to say about the 404 error. Read the complete answer here.
“In general, 404 errors won’t impact your site’s search performance, and you can safely ignore them if you’re certain that the URLs should not exist on your site.
It’s important to make sure that these and other invalid URLs return a proper 404 HTTP response code, and that they are not blocked by the site’s robots.txt file.”
So as per Google, we should first check whether we really need to fix those 404 errors or not. If we believe it an actual URL and should exist on the SERP we must fix it for the users and crawlers.
If you’re sure that there is no replacement or equivalent content is available, you can show the 404 error page. Google currently treats the 410 (gone) and 404 (page not found) as same. Also, creating redirection for non-existent pages to other pages like the homepage is not suggested by Google.
High Bounce Rate Affecting Backlinks
The bounce rate is the numeric measure that tells us the percentage of visitors who come to our site and then leaves without staying or interacting to view other pages within the same site.
A bounce is a single-page session on your site which is compared with all sessions on the site. In the 404 pages, there are strong chances that they contribute to the bounce rates.
Also, what if too many 404 errors are popping up on your website, well that’s not good at all. This is something important, why many new visitors are coming to your site and still finding nothing relevant to stay on it.
Think of all the backlinks that are linked to your webpage on other websites.
What will happen to them? the users will get frustrated and will not come back again to check again. Hurting sales conversions, and also affecting Link Juice (It is the value of SEO equity and benefits provided from one site to another).
In an e-commerce store, many pages are viewed by customers to complete the sale process. Product page, shopping cart page, checkout page, order success page, etc. A high bounce rate for an e-commerce site is a problem that needs to be analyzed. (E-commerce Frontend Performance Audit)
If the problem is more extensive, you need to be sure all the necessary pages are linked correctly. And you may want to re-evaluate your overall site design and examine the graphics, color, buttons, calls to action, and visibility of important page elements.
What if your visitors are unable to see the links or could not find a way out from the 404 pages to some other pages of your site. You can test different versions of your site pages to see which designs encourage users to engage more.
Delisting from Google and Other SERP
Having frequent page not found occurrences can cause Magento SEO 404 issues. Your domain ranking may come down, your metrics get affected. In the worst possible scenario, your links may not appear on the Google search and other search engines.
Just imagine how much traffic will be gone, if your webpage links are no longer on Google or any other popular search engines. How will new visitors find your products? how will crawlers index your web pages, if they are constantly getting 404 errors.
Finding Magento SEO 404 Pages
There are a number of free tools available that crawl through your website and find pages that return 404 status codes. These tools can be valuable in finding links that exist within your website and add external sites as well.
One of the best ways to find 404 errors is by using Google Search Console, Google Analytics, or any paid crawling software.
Google Search Console
You can log in to your Google Search Console and go to the Coverage section to find all 404 errors on your website. It will show you detailed web page URLs that are submitted for indexing but not found.
Once you have fixed those errors, you can click Validate Fix to notify the crawlers to update.
Check for Traffic in Server Logs
Another common method to track traffic to 404 pages using log file analysis. This can be useful to understand more about what 404s users reached on the site.
Nearly all website management control panels will provide you with server-side logs.
These log files are basically the history of what the application performed, which pages were requested, which servers it is connected to, which database result it provides.
Redirect 301 to Similar Page
One way to fix the 404 issues is to set a redirection to a closely related page. If you’re selling a mobile phone, you can redirect your customers to a recently launched mobile phone section.
If your site is big, the chances of 404 errors may be more, as there are thousands of web pages published. Finding those 404 pages and then fixing them will take a good amount of your time.
But it is necessary to fix them as early as possible, either make that page live again or set the redirection to the closest web page.
Homepage – Many site owners don’t have a dedicated page for 404 error notification. Instead, what they do is set the redirection to non-existent URLs to the homepage. Generally, it is not advisable to set all the 404 URLs to your home page, as Google still considers them as Soft 404 errors, that should be fixed instead.
Magento 404 SEO Error Page
From the Magento Admin Panel, you can select the desired CMS page which will appear for the 404 page not found URLs. To configure, you can go to Stores>Settings>Configuration>General>Web.
In the Default No-route URL field, enter the relative path to the folder in the Magento installation where the page is redirected when a “404 Page Not Found” error occurs. The default value is cms/index/noRoute.
Then, Set CMS No Route Page to the CMS page that appears when a “404 Page Not Found” error occurs and click Save.
Interactive 404 Error Page
You can find some really interesting design collection of 404 error pages and use it to optimize Magento SEO 404 error. Most of the site owners display playful images and text to change frustrated visitor’s state of mind.
We should not blame the visitors for arriving on the 404 pages, instead, the site owners need to be apologetic to accept the mistake on their end.
Adding Search Bar
How about adding the search bar field where users can quickly type to view the results. Or show some popular category links, or display call to action button to reach help and support centre.
It is up to you how creative you can be and design an interactive 404 error page for your lost visitors. Do check examples of some of the popular websites and learn how to use this space to convert lost visitors into customers.
Magento 2 SEO Extension
Webkul’s SEO extension for Magento 2 provides various tools to fix and resolve the Magento SEO 404 errors. One of the functionality is the store admin gets the email notification alerts for 404 pages.
So whenever someone visits the Magento store and finds 404 pages, the following email will be sent to the admin.
To sum up, we can say that, yes we require to fix Magento SEO 404 errors. But we should first analyze how they are originating, if it is our fault, we need to be more careful while working on the server.
We must immediately correct the URLs, set proper redirections, and should always have an interactive 404 page to prevent bounce rates.
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