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11 tips for creating useful 404 error pages - TutnIQ
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11 tips for creating useful 404 error pages

Don't be 404, get your error pages right!

  • This tutorial will show you to make a good impression with your website's 404 error pages.

  • Sending the right message

    In this section we will learn about the different HTTP status codes, and in particular the 404 'not found' status code.

  • When a webserver cannot find the page (or file) a web browser is requesting, the webserver sends back an HTTP status code of 404 to indicate that the page is not found, and may display an error page known as a 404 error page. This is the correct server response to requests for missing pages and is not necessarily a problem, unless it happens frequently.

    There are a number of HTTP status codes. Sending the correct one is important from a usability and search engine optimization (SEO) perspective.

    Common HTTP status codes
    CodeDescription
    200OK. The server successfully returned the page.
    301The requested page has been permanently moved to a new location.
    302The requested page has been temporarily moved to a new location.
    404The requested page does not exist.
    503The server is temporarily unavailable.

    Tips

    1. Make sure that your webserver actually emits a 404 HTTP status code for pages or files not found and not a code 200.

      Sending a 404 status code makes it clear to search engine crawlers that the content could not be found and that the page should not be crawled. If the webserver sends back a 200 HTTP status code, for a non-existent page (known as a 'soft 404') the server is incorrectly indicating to search engines that the page actually does exist. This may potentially delay search engine discovery of legitimate pages and negatively impact search engine rankings.

    2. If a page has been moved, permanently redirect users (and search engines) with a code 302.

    3. Do not use code 404 to indicate that your site is down temporarily for maintenance. Rather use a code 503.

  • Online resources:
[Section: 1 of 3]
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