My Page Is 404ing: What Do I Do?

Your website is 404ing, so what do you do? The code “404” stands for “page not found” in the web development world. It often returns when pages have been moved, deleted, or the URL has changed. This means you’ll need to spend some time finding what happened to your content and correcting the error — don’t worry! Most 404 errors relate to relatively simple problems that you can troubleshoot yourself.

In this blog, we will list a few common reasons you are getting a 404 error and steps to take when you find one to get your page up and running as quickly as possible.

Reasons Your Page Is Returning As a 404 Error

When resolving a 404 error, it’s important to know why the error is happening in the first place. This is a case where “why” and “how” go hand in hand. Here are five common reasons the error may be happening and how to fix them:

1. You Recently Moved and/or Added a Page

If you recently added or moved a webpage, there’s a likelihood that the page was placed in the wrong folder. You should start by checking the pathway to the page you are trying to access, followed by comparing it against what is visible in the file transfer protocol (FTP) or content management system (CMS). Ideally, they should be the same. If that’s not the case, you need to move it to the right location. Then, try accessing it in the browser again a moment later.

Of course, if that doesn’t work, you should always check the intended URL. Typically, one of those two things solves the issue in no time, but you may need to contact the website host if you still see an error due to a moved page.

2. You Just Rehosted Your Entire Website

If you have kept the same webpages but rehosted the entire site, you may experience a 404 error. Though site hosting platforms typically do their utmost to minimize the lag time for rehoming a site, meaning no more than a few minutes, problems occasionally occur that would cause this interim period to last longer.

If that is the case, you could get recurring 404 errors after you would have expected the site to transfer over to the new host. First, you can play the old-fashioned waiting game. Likely, if you have a little bit of time to allow the site to rehome, the errors will cease. If it is a time-sensitive issue, like a marketing push or an essential service, you can and absolutely should contact the new site host.

3. You Have Moved the Page’s Directory

Often it is not a change of the page itself that’s responsible for a 404 error, but the directory. If you’re not familiar with the term “directory,” it is simply the containing folder for a given webpage. Much as moving a page, if you move a containing folder, there is a ripple effect. Every URL for each page within the folder will change. If you suspect this is the case, you simply need to find the new URL. If, for some reason, you do not prefer whatever the URL has changed to, it may be necessary to put the folder back where it was or manually rename it.

4. You Made Changes but Forgot About Redirects

As mentioned in these scenarios so far, you may have re-hosted your site, moved pages, or relocated entire folders if errors are returning. Another aspect of those changes that can cause mistakes is forgetting about 301 redirects. The express purpose of a 301 redirect is to tell your site that a page has been permanently moved to another URL and will never return to the address they are trying to use. Not only are 301s easy to implement, but they also cut down on 404 errors and can even be optimized to drive traffic. There is also a redirect called a 302, but 301 redirects are typically both more valuable and common.

5. Simple Spelling Errors

It’s a simple issue but, it must be mentioned! If you manually type in a URL and get a 404, the greatest likelihood is that it has just been mistyped, either through misspelling or a common typo. A good rule thumb is to carefully look over the URL first, check for errors, and make sure your machine is not remembering an incorrect address from a previous typo.
Looking For More Web Solutions?

After reading, you should have the steps you need to fix a 404 error and advice to give to those who need it! For more practical and easy-to-understand solutions for website development, search engine optimization (SEO), and other services for business owners and creators of all types, reach out to experts in the field.
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