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Page not found or 404 errors and how to fix them
So you found a 404 error in your Google webmaster tools, huh? There are many reasons why you see 404 errors on your site:
- You removed a product or a category from your listing.
- You misspelled an url in your product descriptions.
- You migrated your web shop from another CMS or updated the current one.
- You added a third-party extension that added a broken link (you’d be surprised).
- Someone linked to your site and misspelled the url.
- Someone hacked your web shop.
What is link juice and how it plays with HTTP status codes.
Before deciding what to do with a 404 error, you fist need to understand what is link juice. Link juice is an informal SEO term that describes the reputation value of a page based on the backlinks reputation value leading to this page.
Link juice is passed with every link pointing to youк website and is calculated per page. Obviously, your home page is the first candidate for being the page with the most link juice.
As Http Status code is returned to anyone how visits a webpage. Servers send this information to tell browsers what to do with the page. Search bots also use this information to evaluate the page. So the status code can definitely influence your SEO and here is how:
200 – ok/success
A visitor comes to a page and sees content. Bots will see it too. Link Juice is passed.
301 – Permanent redirect (moved permanently)
A visitor is redirected to another page. Bots are redirected too. Link Juice is still passed. Before they said of a 15% loss, but after Google announced new rules of 3xx redirects, it is thought to pass 100%. Still, be careful.
302 – Temporary redirect (or found)
A visitor is redirected to another page. Bots are too but before the new 3xx rules were introduced, link juice was not. The new rules promise the same treatment for 302 by Google as if it was 301. But nobody really knows for sure and since web standards still show it as temporary, you should not use it for anything else.
404 – not found
Visitors will see a 404-error page. Bots and link just are not passed. For them, this page is not available and will not be indexed or removed from the index soon. Even though the page is not indexed, visitors still see it so make it look nice.
500 – server error
Don’t you hate it when this happens? If your server is down – you will see this page. Well, actually it’s not a page since your server responded with an error and didn’t really return anything. Try to avoid this at all costs.
503 – server unavailable
This can happen when a server is too busy or on maintenance. You will be asked to come back later. Google treats it as 404 – no link juice is passed and if this error shows up too often, Google will drop you, be sure about that.
How to fix 404 errors with SEO Module Url
SEO Module Url is designed to administrate all the tasks concerning SEO Urls, including monitoring and fixing 404 pages in OpenCart.
Here are two options that you can do fix a 404-error page:
Create a cool custom 404 page and leave it as is.
Although there are different schools of thought about leaving or not, we at SEO Module believe that in some cases it is not a bad idea to just leave it as is and allow google to remove the page from index.
301 (permanent) Redirect to a relevant page.
In most cases and if the page has valuable link juice, you would want to fix a 404 page by redirecting the visitor to a relevant page. Say you have a new version of a product. The old url can redirect the visitor to a new page. Since probably there was a link pointing to the old url, with a 301 redirect you get to save most of the link juice and forward it to your new page.
SEO Module Url provides a Dashboard widget that will help you keep trek of new 404 pages and react immediately.
- Go to Admin / SEO Module Url / Tab Redirects.
- Visit every pages to be sure it is 404
- Add a redirect url next to it.
SEO Module Urls offers Multilanguage redirects. Which means if your uses French, he will be redirected to the French version of the page. For Search bots the default language will be used always.