What Are 404 Errors And Why Should I Care?
While you are dealing with the phones ringing, ordering supplies, making sure the local paper has your event’s date and time correct, you get a call from a Marketing person telling you that your website is ‘broken’ and this person can help you fix it. They go on to talk about the report they can share with you that will show you have a lot of broken links and error messages on your website. Does this sound familiar?
On the one hand, this is a very common tactic for internet marketers to get your attention. Web sites just don’t stay “fixed”. There are continuous updates to the Content Mangement System or links change/page closes or a myriad of other items change and cause your website to no longer be perfect! If you have not had a professional looking after your website, you should probably pay attention to what this market is saying. However, if you have had a professional internet marketer maintaining your website, there are fake “errors” that can be used to catch your attention.
More than you every wanted to know about the number 404
This brings me to the 404 Errors. How much do they really affect your website and how do they affect your standing in the Google SERP or results page – your SEO! First of all, a crawl error or 404 Error is a response code that the Google Search bots return when they find a dead end on your website. This may be for a number of reasons – maybe a page was deleted (please say no, that is not the reason), may be the name of your page was changed slightly or updated and the URL changed and no one bothered to clue Google (or the internet search bots) in on the redirect or something else weird happened.
The 404 errors happen when there is a request for a page and Google cannot find it. As previously discussed, may be there was a page and something happened to it making it no longer available. It is reported that the Google Algorithm delivering the SERP or search results page (how far up you show when someone searches for your keywords) is not affected by 404 Errors. However, if you have a page on your website that is returning a 404 error, that means Google can’t find it to index it, so it doesn’t exist to Google. Also, if you have a lot of 404 errors on your website, your Google “Crawl Budget” (how much time and number of pages Google is willing to spend on your website) will be wasted if Google bots are running up dead ends with the 404 Errors.
So…what to do with the notification about your website’s 404 Errors?
- Don’t freak out.
- Request a report from your SEO provider (or website maintenance company) from Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools). You can see for yourself what pages are returning errors to see what the priority is to fix these.
- Take action – fix the pages or use a redirect for the URLs so that when Google goes to the page, it is forward to a good page and the little Google bots are happy to devour all your great content and make a record (index) it.
If you do not have a professional to rely on to help you with this topic, call me! I can help you or help you find someone that can help you. Technical problems with your website can be as troublesome as bad content (duplicate content, over-optimized content, no content) for your SEO.