Avoiding 404 Errors: Tips on Seamless URL Redirection

Watch this video or read the article below here!


We’ve all seen that before, 404 page not found, right? You don’t want visitors to get page not found. In addition, Search engines won’t be able to find the page either, and they won’t know that you’ve changed the URL.

They don’t have some intuition that knows that, oh, all the content that was on this page is now on this page. It’s basically the same. And you know what they will do if that page was ranking high in search engines? It will drop.

So what you need to do is preserve the path so that people who have links to certain pages on your website, maybe there’s backlinks out on the internet already.

Maybe you’ve sent out emails directing people to particular pages on your website. Whatever the case may be and then search engines have your pages all indexed in their database When they try to go to those old pages those old URLs, we don’t want them to have a 404 We want it to preserve so we want to say hey Anyone trying to go to the contact us page now, you’re just going to contact That’s it.

And how you implement redirects really depends on your platform you So you need to find that out. If you are using WordPress, you can do it one of a couple of ways. Most likely you will use a plugin Yoast premium includes redirects by default. So if you install Yoast. in your website early on, and then you change a page name, I mean, a page URL, Yoast will make the change automatically for you.

You can also install other plugins such as Redirection, and there’s others that will do the same thing for you. They will automatically create those redirects for you. If you don’t install a plugin or something that will make the redirects while you’re changing the URLs, You can do this afterwards.

That’s okay. And you can manually enter into the plugin or the application what the old name was or the old URL was and what the new URL is.


Let’s go over this a little more in detail


Have you ever clicked on a link or typed in a URL, only to be greeted by a frustrating 404 error message? As a website owner, avoiding 404 errors should be a top priority, not only for providing a seamless user experience but also for maintaining your search engine rankings. In this guide, we’ll explore the importance of URL redirection, implementation techniques, and best practices to ensure your website remains accessible and SEO-friendly.

Understanding 404 Errors

A 404 error, also known as a “Page Not Found” error, occurs when a user attempts to access a URL that no longer exists or has been moved without proper redirection. This can happen for various reasons, such as restructuring your website, changing domain names, or removing outdated content. Regardless of the cause, 404 errors can negatively impact your user experience and search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

The Importance of Avoiding 404 Errors

From a user experience perspective, encountering a 404 error can be frustrating and lead to potential customers abandoning your website. It creates a disjointed and unprofessional impression, damaging your brand’s credibility. Additionally, search engines like Google take 404 errors seriously, as they indicate broken links and a potential lack of maintenance on your website. Excessive 404 errors can result in lower search rankings, decreased visibility, and lost organic traffic.

Techniques for Implementing URL Redirection


1. 301 Permanent Redirects

The 301 redirect is the most commonly used and recommended method for redirecting URLs. It signifies to search engines and browsers that the resource has permanently moved to a new location, allowing you to seamlessly transfer authority and rankings from the old URL to the new one.By implementing 301 redirects correctly, you can seamlessly transfer SEO authority, link equity, and rankings from the old URL to the new one, ensuring a smooth transition for both users and search engines.

In our previous blog, “How to Implement 301 Redirects for Your Website Redesign,” we covered this topic. We strongly encourage you to check it out for a step-by-step guide on mapping old and new URLs, choosing the right redirection method for your platform, and following best practices for a successful implementation.

2. Redirection Plugins and Tools
Depending on your website platform, various plugins and tools are available to simplify the process of implementing URL redirections. For WordPress users, popular plugins like Yoast Premium, Redirection, and Simple 301 Redirects offer user-friendly interfaces and features.

3. Server-Level Redirection
If you prefer a more technical approach or have a large number of URLs to redirect, server-level redirection using an .htaccess file (for Apache servers) or web.config file (for IIS servers) can be an effective solution. This method requires some coding knowledge but offers greater flexibility and control.

Best Practices for Seamless URL Redirection

1. Plan Ahead and Document URLs
Before making any significant changes to your website structure or URLs, create a comprehensive list of all existing URLs. This will ensure you don’t overlook any pages when implementing redirects, avoiding potential 404 errors.

2. Use Appropriate Redirect Types
While 301 redirects are the preferred choice for permanent URL changes, there are other redirect types, such as 302 (temporary) and 307 (temporary redirect for POST requests). Understanding when to use each type is crucial for maintaining SEO integrity and avoiding potential issues.

3. Regularly Monitor and Update Redirects
As your website evolves, new pages will be added, and old ones may be removed or restructured. It’s essential to regularly monitor and update your redirects to ensure a seamless user experience and maintain your SEO efforts.

4. Optimize Redirect Performance
Excessive redirects or redirect chains (multiple redirects in sequence) can negatively impact page load times and user experience. Aim to minimize the number of redirects and optimize their performance by redirecting directly to the final destination URL whenever possible.

5. Communicate Changes to Search Engines
When making significant changes to your website structure or URLs, it’s advisable to communicate these updates to search engines through tools like Google Search Console. This can help them understand and adapt to the changes more quickly, minimizing potential ranking fluctuations.

If you are building or managing your website yourself, consider learning more to make your site more effective!

Avoiding 404 errors and implementing seamless URL redirection is crucial for maintaining a positive user experience and preserving your search engine rankings. By following the techniques and best practices outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your website remains accessible, user-friendly, and SEO-optimized, even as you make changes and updates over time.

This is the Toto way.

Web Coach Jennifer Smiling

Former Web Development Agency Owner
Founder of Toto Coaching
Founder of Toto SEO

Jennifer DeRosa

Jennifer is the author of "Building DIY Websites for Dummies," a new addition to the renowned "for dummies" series.

She is also the visionary behind Toto SEO and Toto Coaching. As the founder of Toto SEO, she specializes in offering SEO solutions tailored for small businesses. Through Toto Coaching, she provides an interactive online course, complete with weekly coaching sessions, empowering small businesses and entrepreneurs to craft websites that not only presell their offerings but also foster trust among their clientele.

Jennifer's thirst for knowledge recently led her to complete a program on No Code Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at the prestigious MIT University. 

Before her current ventures, Jennifer was the driving force behind TechCare, a web development agency she founded and led from 2001 to 2021, when she had a successful Exit.

Her career also includes consulting roles with industry giants such as Mercedes Benz Credit Corporation, US Surgical, GTE, GE Capital, Unilever, and Calvin Klein.

She is a frequent speaker for WordPress Meetups, SCORE, and others.

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