A 404 HTTP response is an error message displayed by a web server when the content requested by the user is not at the specified address. It usually occurs when the user has written the address incorrectly (spelling error) or when the content has been moved without redirecting. Having many 404 errors is bad for a website if they are the result of users clicking on a broken link.
What is a 404 Not Found error?
A 404 is the HTTP response status code that indicates that the requested content has not been found. This usually happens when a user misspells a web address in the browser or when the content has been moved without redirecting or it has been deleted. Sometimes, it may also be the cause of permalinks being improperly set on the website.
As a web owner, it is standard practice to customize the 404 error page in order to help users find what they were looking for, but also to improve the structure of the website and to help bots crawl it better. Some may also choose to design a funny page for users who get lost on their websites.
Are 404 errors bad for a website?
404 errors can occur when a web administrator misspells a word in a linked URL on the page or when the content is no longer there. In this case, 404 errors can hurt a website, as they are the consequence of broken links. If a website constantly links to content that is not there, leading its users to land on the 404 page after clicking, this will negatively impact their SEO. It will also have an impact on usability and user satisfaction.
It is recommended for website owners to use Google Search Console to track 404 errors. In the “coverage” tab, you can find a category named soft 404, which are in fact URLs that used to exist at one point, but, for one reason or another, are no longer there. You can also check if there is a page referencing one of the soft 404 URLs and fix the issue by removing the link or updating it. You should also redirect pages that are no longer active to others with relevant content on your website, using 301 Redirect.