What are 404 pages?
You’ve probably encountered a “404 page error” before, that’s when you might have been shopping for a product or a service?
Let’s say for example that you are looking to purchase a new fridge freezer, you might have seen a result in Google’s results, (The SERP’s) and then clicked on the result, and then be presented with a “404 page error”.
Often this is because the page has been deleted, yet the pages is still in Google’s index.
We will explain why a lot of agencies often recommend that the page is not deleted, that’s because you may wish to use instead a “301 redirect”.
What are 404 pages?
Quite simply put, 404 pages are pages that cannot be found, this is often because the page has been deleted.
Often this occurs with e-commerce websites that are selling a large amount of products, sometimes the retailer will simply delete the page, that because the product is no longer stocked or in stock.
However, as it will come onto later within this article, it’s good SEO practice not to delete pages just because the product is no longer in stock.
We say that because it might be better to say to the shopper that the product is not available, because it is out of stock, so that they cannot purchase that item. Then use the opportunity of the customer being on your website to try and sell them a similar product, this will help to reduce your businesses “bounce rate”.
Your SEO agency may use a crawl error report
One of your agency’s monthly tasks might be to carry out a “crawl error report”, the report should flag up any pages which have become 404 pages.
This might simply be because the URL has been edited accidentally by the web designers, for example somebody might have updated the page and then accidentally changed the URL, so that the old URL has now become a 404 error.
It could be because the page has simply been deleted, however your SEO agency should evaluate whether that page has any SEO value, this might be because the page has accrued backlinks, and therefore the page should not be deleted, but you might choose to use instead say a “301 redirect” to a similar product page.
So for example, coffee machine one is out of stock, that’s because that coffee machine is discontinued, yet we stock that manufacturers newest model, and you may then wish to use a 301-redirect to the new model coffee machine, this way if the old page had good quality backlinks, then your SEO company can help you to send the “link equity” to the new coffee machine page.
However, implementing 301 redirects should only be undertaken by an SEO expert.
Why your marketing agency should aim to keep “404 pages” to a minimum
Let’s say that you sell furniture online via an e-commerce shop, yet you often stock products and then when you run out of stock your business may then decide to delete that page?
However, after gaining advice from a white hat SEO agency, they may recommend that you do not delete the page, because it might have accrued SEO value, such as good quality backlinks.
Also, that product page might have been live for quite a while, so instead the agency may recommend a “301 redirect” through to a similar product instead.
So for example, lets say you stock a electric bike, yet that’s no longer available, you may wish to redirect that page to say another electric bike made by the same manufacturer?
Therefore you should consult with your digital marketing agency before you start to delete product pages.
Why a lot of agencies will recommend that you should keep deleting pages to a minimum.
Deleting pages often means that you will lose all of the accrued SEO value to that page, for example, all of the backlinks that have been built to that page might well be lost.
If your agency is able to implement a “301 redirect” correctly then you might be able to pass link equity onto a new page.
404 errors simply mean that page cannot be found
Therefore simply put “404 page errors” simply mean that the page cannot be found.
This is normally because the page has simply been deleted.
This is normally because the page has been deleted.