What causes a 404 error page not found?
The most common cause for a 404 error is the page has been taken down or moved to a new URL – it’s simply a dead link. But there are other circumstances that could lead to 404 errors, as well. The URL of the link you’re trying to view may be wrong or the server the site’s ran on is down or there are connection problems.
How do I fix a 404 error?
If you’re seeing this error on your site, you’ve probably moved or deleted something and didn’t update the internal linking structure of your site. To fix the 404 errors, the best thing to do is add redirects to these pages so the visitor or search engine will be guided through to the correct or related page.
In many cases though, it’s another site linking to your site and they have the wrong URL linking to you. For example, if you have a page that’s yoursite.com/weeklydeal and they try to link to you using yoursite.com/weeklydeals, it’s not going to work. You can try to contact them to get it fixed, but it’s probably just easier to make a redirect for yoursite.com/weeklydeals to yoursite.com/weeklydeal
How do I find 404 pages on my site?
You can find any 404 errors on your site by looking in Google Webmaster Tools. Go to Diagnostics, then to Crawl Errors. If you click on the ‘not found’, you’ll see a complete list of all the 404s on your site. You can click on one and it’ll show you all the places that are linking to that page.
How to fix 404 errors with .htaccess redirects
You can redirect 404 pages with the .htaccess file, found in your site’s root folder in cPanel’s File Manager. Enable view hidden files to find it. You can redirect specific pages or all the pages that have a 404 error. Be extremely careful when editing this file though, as one typo can mess up your site.
To redirect a single page to another page, add this line to your .htaccess file:
Redirect 301 /oldpage.html http://www.example.com/newpage.html
If you have a lot of 404 pages, you visitors to all of those pages to your front page. If this is the case, simply add this line to your .htaccess file:
ErrorDocument 404 http://YOURURL
Note: If you downloaded the .htaccess file to edit it or you’re creating one for the first time, make sure you upload it in ascii mode. Name the file htaccess.txt and change the name of it to just .htaccess once it’s uploaded to your server.
Plugins to fix 404 errors in WordPress
If you’re using WordPress, there are a number of free plugins to help you manage your 404 pages and create redirects. Here are just a few of them: