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Get Your Webmaster To Check For 404s

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Posted by Dave Lauretti on March 31, 2011

Always add your .htaccess 301 RedirectsIt doesn’t always happen, but it does sometimes – right after we decide to check the status of our websites in Google’s Webmaster tools, we find crawl errors and more specifically the dreaded 404 Page Not Found errors, and we don’t like it.

Search Engines Don’t Like 404 Errors Either

If you don’t know why the search engines don’t like 404 errors, read on!

Take this scenario as an example: a user decides to open their browser and search Google for ladies shoes, they perform their search and find a whole list of search results and there’s your listing right there with the rest of them – maybe even near the top of the page. What do they do? Of course they click on your listing and when they arrive at your page or site they experience one of two feelings – like or dislike.

What Can Contribute To A Dislike?

A 404 page not found. Why, well it’s a complete waste of their time! Does a 404 page have to happen? No and absolutely not. As a part of a webmaster’s job, the task of generating an .htaccess 301 file which will redirect users (and search engines, and page rank)  is something that’s taken seriously in the SEO world.

If a user clicks on a link in the search engines and arrives at a dead 404 page that hasn’t been properly redirected, that same user will associate this (un-userfriendly) website with the search engine itself – the fear of search engines is that a user will use other search engines instead.

Does that make sense? It should. If at least once a day a user searches with a search engine and finds a 404 page not found page, what do you think they’ll do? They’ll find another search engines to use in the hopes that they won’t find errors and will find the information they’re looking for.

The Effect On SEO?

I won’t say that a single 404 page will adversely affect your rankings, but in the long run a site that’s running users away won’t do you any good from a user perspective and most likely from a search engine perspective as well.

Check your Google Webmaster tools account for 404s at least once a month, especially if you have a large number of pages and update your content regularly – errors somehow always seems to manage to creep in.


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