You’ve probably been to many websites ever since you entered the world of the Internet. Chances are, you’ve encountered several problems with your website. Perhaps you’ve found a page you went to suddenly didn’t exist. Maybe the server is temporarily down, so you can’t visit it for a while.
There are all kinds of error pages, and perhaps the most common among them is the error 404 page. You can learn more about it through this article by Squarespace Themes. Error pages can be pretty devastating to website owners. They can reduce user experience, mess with your website’s search engine rankings, and more.
As such, it’s crucial to deal with these error pages as soon as possible, but you have to remember that there are different approaches for different kinds of errors.
Read on to know more about these techniques and how you can prevent the most common error pages that can come from your website. Here are some:
Tip #1. Avoid Unnecessary Changes
Error 404 means the page you’re trying to get to doesn’t exist, and it’s the most common type of error page on a website. There are two reasons for this to occur. Either you made a typo when typing the URL, or changes had been made to the URL itself.
On that note, if you don’t want your users to be seeing the error 404 pages, avoid changing the URLs of your website unless there’s a compelling reason, such as company rebranding, website redesigning, and site migration. You should also avoid changing the filenames as this small change can lead to significant consequences if the file in question is connected to something important in the system. In short, avoid unnecessary changes.
If you must, make sure the administrator is informed to make the appropriate adjustments to the changes you’ve done. For instance, if you can alert the administrator before the changes, they can prepare a 301 redirect—yet another tip you should consider.
Tip #2. Set Up A 301 Redirect
While it may sound quite complex, 301 redirect is a simple piece of code that tells your visitors that what they’re looking for is now in a new location. Hence, 301 redirects are also called “Moved Permanently Code.” A 301 redirect also tells the visitor where the new site is. Naturally, if you want to change the URL of a page, a 301 redirect is something you shouldn’t forget.
Furthermore, a 301 redirect is invisible, so the users won’t notice that the page has been moved to a new location, even if they frequent this particular page.
One problem you might encounter is that even if you don’t change the URL, there are cases where pages will slowly become inaccessible, turning into broken links. When that happens, the server will always send your visitors to an error page, but not if you can track down and fix these links.
Tip #3. Track Down Broken Links
As the name suggests, broken links, or link rots, are sites or pages that no longer work not because someone changed it, but because it slowly deteriorated. If that’s the case, your job is to set up a 301 redirect, as previously said. However, as you don’t know what this link is, it would be challenging to do a 301 redirect. So, first, you have to track down the broken link.
There are several ways you can do this. You can try using Google Search Console to find broken links. They also call this crawling errors. You can also try using Bing Webmaster. After locating the broken links, all you have to do is set up the 301 redirects, and you’re all good to go.
However, you have to remember that while these two tips can save you the trouble of losing visitors due to errors, error 404 is not the only error page that can result from your website. You also have to take into account other errors. With that said, as error 401 and 403 are pretty similar, you should be able to prevent these error pages with a simple technique.
Tip #4. Update Your Plugins And Themes
Error 401 appears when the page a visitor is supposedly trying to access is password-protected, and they’re currently not logged in, while error 403 occurs when the visitor is logged in, but their account doesn’t have the necessary privileges to access the page. In other words, both error 401 and 403 are connected to a page being ‘protected.’
Take note that these errors can occur even if the page in question isn’t protected or has tight website security. It happens simply because the server mistakes it to be.
One way to fix this is by updating your plugins. This is because there might be a plugin or themes on your website builder that’s interfering with the operations of the website’s server. You can also try disabling them and enabling them again if they’re already up-to-date.
Tip #5. Make Use Of 503 Status Code
There will be times when the error page is your fault, but most of the time, it isn’t. One such case is when your server is temporarily down. You might’ve also planned to do maintenance. Either way, you can’t do anything in these cases other than informing your visitors about it. Perhaps the best way to approach this is by making use of a 503 status code.
The 503 status code is a piece of code, similar to 301, that tells the visitors that the page they’re looking for is temporarily down and that they should return later. So, instead of being sent to an error page, the server will send your visitors a message instead.
These tips may require a bit of technical understanding from your side, but this guide should, at least, make it clear that error pages are just a natural occurrence of a website. It may or may not be your fault, but what matters most is that you minimize the chances of them appearing. That way, your users won’t be inconvenienced and switch to a less buggy website.