What is a 404 Error Page? Why is it important in a website?

404 not found! is the smallest of the notifications and mysterious (who is 404 and why we can not find it?) But it is enough to push the majority of web users to despair: the link you want does not work and, usually, it is very important and must work right now (first world problems). One explanation is that there may be a link on your site that was incorrect or that the page has been removed from the website. Considering that search doesn’t show anything, the server sends a page that simply says “404 Page not found”.

404 Page!


A 404 page, or error page, is the content that a user sees when trying to reach a non-existent page on our website. It is the page viewed by your server when it can not find the URL requested by the user.

As a website owner, you can create a custom greeting page that is presented when this code is returned from the servers. This is done first to recognize that the connection that the user was trying to access is broken or has been deleted, and secondly to provide them with alternative links to try, or at least direct access to your home page and to the main navigation.

Meaning of 404!

When we check it by expanding the code 404, the first digit “4” represents a client error. The server indicates that you made an error such as the URL spelling error or the request for a page that is no longer available.

The central digit, 0 represents a general syntax error and may indicate a spelling error.

The last digit, 4 refers to a specific error in the 40x group. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) states that 404 not found should be used in cases where the server can not find the required location and is unsure of its status.

Whenever a page has permanently removed, the status code used must be 410. But we hardly saw a 410 page. Instead, the 404 not found page became popular and the most commonly used error page.

How can you create a 404 Page?


The way you create your 404 page depends entirely on how you manage your website.
For those using WordPress, 404 page is a highly recommended plugin that lets you customize page 404. It does not even require any development skills.

For those who do not use WordPress as CMS, it is really worth paying for a developer or designer to create and implement one for you.

When you design and write your 404 page, follow the best practices by referring to some of the best 404 error page examples as the more creative your 404 page is, the more attention it would receive.

Why is 404 Page important for SEO?

The subtitle is a bit misleading, but I used it because it is a question that is very much in search. 404 pages are not directly advantageous to the SEO of your website, however, you can do smart things with the elements that are under your control and create a safety net, which potentially prevents visitors from dropping or leaving your website ( two actions that search engines will translate as negative).

Some website owners prefer not to use 404 pages at all and redirect interrupted sessions to home pages or subsections in an attempt to preserve link juice. This can be harmful depending on the frequency of occurrences, so it is not advisable to exclude 404.


Make 404 Page more interesting!

There may have been an error, but it is not the end of the world, as long as it keeps the user’s attention long enough to point in the right direction.

Illustrations, graphics and a well-designed design are all ways to link the wandering eye, but it is important not to exaggerate; The page may not look very different from the rest of the pages on your website or it may cause confusion.

Use of 404 Page!

  1. 404 errors can be frustrating for users, so the main purpose of a 404 page is to turn the potential negative user experience to encounter an error into a positive one.
  2. The key to this is the links.
  3. Links on 404 pages are much important because they give users a way to get out of the error page.
  4. Instead of closing the window or navigating away from your site, the user is able to find useful and potentially relevant resources on another page.
  5. Some links that are needed to add to your 404 pages should include:
  • Your home page, of course
  • Some of your most popular blog pages
  • The most popular or valuable product or category pages
  • One way for users to report a broken link or a contact page/form
  • An HTML sitemap

You can also help your users by adding a site search bar to your own 404 page so they can find what they are looking for directly from that page.

Qualities of Good 404 Page error

A good 404 error page sends a correct message and leads the visitor to where he intends to go.

  • It has an error message written in plain language so that even non-technical users find it easy to understand.
  • The tone of the message is slightly excused.
  • It has an error message indicating what went wrong without warning the visitor
  • Explain to the user why is the URL could not able to found
  • Lists the most common errors in accessing files on the site
  • List the consistent naming conventions used on the site
  • Provides spell checking functionality for failed URLs
  • Allows the visitor to access other important links of the site
  • It affects the visitor on what is popular
  • Links to the main page or to help files or frequently asked questions on the site
  • Display no more than 10 links
  • It has a link to send via email to the webmaster or a form to send non-working links.
  • It has a search field linked to the search engine of the site and a list of links similar to the one that was inserted.
  • It has no advertisements.
  • Avoid redirecting 301 and 302.

Situations where we should not use 404 Page!

There are times when you do not want to serve a 404 page to a user who requests a page that does not exist (or no longer exists).

Which pages would you like to redirect?

Normally pages that :

  • Have very important external links or many links
  • Get a lot of traffic or a substantial share of your website’s total traffic
  • Have a perfect  URL that the user/linker is trying to reach
  • Replace, pages that receive many links, visitors or conversions to preserve SEO value instead of relying on redirects.

In these situations, it makes more sense to add a 301 redirect to send users and link the juice to a more relevant and useful page. Remember, however, that landing pages you use for redirects must be a legitimate replacement content.  If you have 404 errors for these types of URLs, ideally you will still have substitute content for these pages because they are probably the most important pages of your website.

Even if your website has no broken links, it is a good idea to have a 404 page in place when users mistakenly type the address of a website. A 404 page is a page that intimates that a 404 error has occurred. Most website templates include a default page 404 and having a creative 404 page could help you build a better branding and also give a nicer experience to the visitors.

Peter is a freelance writer with more than eight years of experience covering topics in politics. He was one of the guys that were here when the foreignspolicyi.org started.