404 error

Why should you be taking responsibility for your 404 errors?

by Ed Gately on November 18, 2009 · 4 comments

in Setting Up Wordpress,Wordpress Theme Tips

If you’ve been online for very long you’ve probably clicked at least one link or visited some page that resulted in a 404 error.  I even went and asked a friend of mine, who is probably the most internet illiterate person I know, about 404 errors.  She immediately responded with oh yeah 404 I see that pop up sometimes, it means the page can’t be found or something right?  I just go back or leave immediately and try to find what I need elsewhere.

This is part of the problem I see everywhere.  When I do see a 404, the majority of the time, I usually notice that the error page is blaming me for going to a page that no longer exists.  And probably more than 90% of the time all I did to get there was click a link from some other website.  So how exactly is it my fault again?

Are you blaming your visitors for getting a 404 error?  And more importantly is it really their fault?  And even if it is their fault, is it better to take the blame and help them move to a page that does exist, or just go ahead and leave a default error page up and loose that visitor to the rest of the internet?

Personally, I feel responsible for all 404 errors that someone might get on my site.  The time the visitor might have clicked a link from Google that no longer exists.  Maybe they clicked a link from another blog where the other blogger typed the link wrong.

I should have been redirecting any pages I deleted to a suitable replacement.  Or I should be watching for incoming links to my site and if they are wrong redirecting them to appropriate pages.  The idea is that I feel I should be as proactive as possible to prevent 404 errors when possible, and when I fail to do so it is my fault.

There of course are some 404 errors that you can never find or be proactive to take care of, such as a visitor manually typing an address on your pages and ending up at a 404.  But even in this case I don’t want to just blame them and loose a visitor.  Instead I’d rather accept the blame and try to help that person the best I can to move into a legitimate page on my site.

So what are your thoughts?  Most people over look this area of their site, and maybe it’s not a huge issue, but when fine tuning your site it is something often overlooked.  How would you better your 404 error page?

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About The Author: Hi, I'm Ed Gately and I write Wordpress Master to help bloggers get started in building a successful online blog using Wordpress. Prior to writing on this blog I spent over 16 years working in Corporate IT and have been spreading my wings on the web for 3 years. To learn more about this website and me visit About Wordpress Master.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

lovie November 24, 2009 at 11:59 am

Thank you for sharing; good article. Question How can I better optimitize my website?


Jason Diehl November 24, 2009 at 8:06 pm

That’s a really great question, but a really big answer. I’ll work on a series of articles to go over different aspects that you can optimize your Wordpress website.


Rajesh Kanuri November 28, 2009 at 4:34 am

nice article.. Optimizing 404 is must for every blogger as it irritates the end user..


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