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How To Handle And Fix Your 404s – BuzzStarter Best Practices Guide – Part 2

Funny 404 from 501stLast week, we discussed part 1 of how BuzzStarter’s best practices on 404s come to play. For the conclusion of this series, we will layout key bullet point action items on how we address 404s in general. For new people who are just getting into SEO, seeing 404 error messages in Google Webmaster tools can be nerve wracking. As we mentioned previously, handling your 404 page in the right way is an integral, but shouldn’t be a worrying exercise, part in improving your website’s user experience for your visitors and search engines.

Why do we get 404 messages?

Not a comprehensive list but generally, search engine bots will get a 404 because:

  • A bookmark from Social sites (G+, Facebook, etc.) does not exist.
  • Black hat competitors, or spammers generate non-existing links to your site that gets crawled by search bots.
  • A page that was linked from an external source got moved or deleted.
  • Code from your page (javascript, etc.) isn’t handling page loads properly giving the appearance of a 404.

You have 404s, now what?

Funny 404 from karatedoNow that you understand how a 404 happens, what do you do next? In part one of our article we gave you guys an idea on how we handle 404s in general. Now for a summary and actual list of action items, this is what we recommend.

  • Now that you see 404s happening, make sure that existing pages in your site do not link to these 404 pages
  • It is not necessary to redirect all 404s to someplace in your site. In fact, if you are having just a regular amount of 404s, it may not be necessary to redirect at all.
  • If you do get an unusual amount, make sure you redirect properly to the right page on your site. Take a look at your sitemap file and make sure to audit, then remove any links on the map that points to non-existing pages.
  • If a link from an external source is pointing on a non existing link on the site, reach out to the owner of that site to let him know of the issue. If that doesn’t resolve that, try to handle the 404 on your own by doing your own redirect to an actual relevant page on your site.
  • 404s happen. Our suggestion is create some links that are important to navigating your site on your 404 page, ideally to some rich content portal on your site.

You can relax now, Buzz Starter is always here to help. For more updated best practices please always refer to the search engines themselves.

For Bing 404 best practices, click here.
For Google 404 best practices, click here.

We are always here to help, contact us and let us know how we can help you in maximing your SEO dollars.

Posted in: BuzzStarter, Optimization Floor, Search Engine Optimization
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