When you try to print an iFrame or frame in Internet Explorer versions 9 through 11, a blank page or '404 – Not Found' error message is printed instead of the actual content. This problem occurs on computers that are running any of the following operating systems: Windows Server 2012 R2 Windows 8.1. A 404 page is bad for your SEO. A visitor is lost because the links on your website have not been maintained properly. One or two broken links presented occasionally to search engines will not really matter. But you have a more serious problem if the search engine comes up against these errors often on your site. This refers to pages on your website that are returning a 404 - Not Found HTTP status code, aka a 'dead page'.The '404 - Not Found' is one of the most common 4XX errors and indicates that the page does not. Looking at the default page of page 404 not found, you can imagine how cringe-worthy it would feel like as a user to suddenly drop on an empty page like this. It essentially forms a dead-end for the visitor, since they can do nothing else but return to the homepage or go to a different site. When a page you are trying to open on a website cannot be found on their web server, it gives you a 404 error page. A 404 error is a response code from the server that is categorized under HTTP status codes. You would know it is a 404 error page when you see the following error messages: 404 Not Found.

You know the page: you click on a link, but instead of getting the site you want, an error pops up indicating that the requested page is not available. Something along the lines of '404 Not Found'. A 404 error is the standardised HTTP status code. The message is sent from the web server of an online client, to the web browser (usually the client) that sent the HTTP request. The browser then displays this error code.

Links that don’t lead anywhere are known as 'dead links' or 'broken links'. The HTTP status code 404 is often referred to as 'error 404', 'HTTP 404', or '404 code'.

We’ve gathered information on error messages and will show you how to create your very own 404 page.

How does a '404 error' come about?

The typical trigger for an error 404 message is when website content has been removed or moved to another URL. There are also other reasons why an error message could appear. These include:

  • The URL or its content (such as files or images) was either deleted or moved (without adjusting any internal links accordingly)
  • The URL was writtenincorrectly (during the creation process or a redesign), linkedincorrectly, or typed into the browser incorrectly
  • The server responsible for the website is not running or the connection is broken
  • The requested domain name can’t be converted to an IP by the domain name system (DNS)
  • The entered domain name doesn’t exist (anymore)

Dead links are often left for long periods of time since operators have no idea that the linked content has been deleted or moved. Many websites still appear in the search engineresults pages (SERPs) even though they aren’t available online anymore (or at least not at the specified URL). Other linked websites such as blogs, news portals, etc. are often not informed that the site has been removed or can now be found under a new URL. Many website operators don’t check their external links regularly and therefore a functioning link could easily become a dead one.

How to fix the error '404 Not Found'

A 404 error is rarely a reason to celebrate. At the end of the day, the website’s visitors have not found the content that they were looking for. However the appearance of a 404 page does not necessarily mean that the desired information is not available at all. In many cases, the solution to the original error is easily found and the visitor can be quickly directed to the web page that they were originally looking for. So how exactly can you go about achieving a 404 error fix? Our advice would be to try out these potential solutions (in the order that they are listed):

  • Reload the page: It might be that the error 404 has appeared for the simple reason that the page did not load properly. This can be checked quite easily by clicking on the ‘Refresh’ button in your browser or also by pressing the F5 button.
  • Check the URL: Regardless of whether you have entered the URL address manually or have been directed via a link, it could be that a mistake has been made. For this reason you should check the specified path of the website. It could be that either you, or the person who entered the link, has mistyped something. Apart from spelling mistakes, it could also be that forward slashes have been left out or misplaced. But bear in mind that this can only really be checked with ‘clean’ URLs, as they contain unreadable words instead of incomprehensible abbreviations, letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Go back through the directory levels: For example, if a URL of the following structure example.com/Directory1/Directory2/Directory3 causes a 404 error page, then you can always go back to the previous directory level (in this example: example.com/Directory1/Directory2) in order to check whether the desired page is linked there. All you need to do is clear the last directory in the URL. The link for the page you are looking for should be visible on the previous page. If it is not to be found on that page then you can also go back to the previous page and look for the correct link there. But if it so happens that this method is also successful and you eventually end up back on the homepage, then move onto the next tip.
  • Use the website’s search function: Many websites offer a search function as part of their homepage. By entering one or several keywords, it can help you find the specific page that you are looking for.
  • Use a search engine: You also have the possibility of using the website of your choice to find a website. As long as the desired site exists, you should be able to find it by entering the website domain and/or a keyword transcription of the subject matter.
  • Delete the browser cache and cookies: If you can access the website from another device, and the HTTP 404 error only seems to appear on a certain computer, then the problem could lie with your browser. Therefore, you should delete the browser cache as well as all cookies for this site, and this may then finally allow you to access the page.
  • Contact the website: If none of the abovementioned tips have been successful then the only remaining option may be to get in touch with the person/people responsible for the website. Contact information can usually be found in the website’s masthead or else on a specific ‘Contact Us’ page. The operators of the website should be able to provide information as to whether the page you are looking for actually exists. It might be the case that the page in question has been moved to a new URL, and in this scenario you will be doing the website operator a big favour. They can then carry out a 404 error fix by introducing a domain redirect, which will automatically direct users from the old web page to the current one.

HTTP 404 errors can damage a website’s ranking and reputation

Search engines, such as Google and Bing, look down on sites if they have many 404 errors. Once the crawlers have established that many requests are being met with 404 codes, it presumes the site isn’t very well maintained. Dead links affect a site’s ranking and Google can decrease its placement in the SERPs or even stop indexing it if there are too many 404 error pages occurring. This may result in a considerable decrease in visitor numbers for the website.

The visitor loses trust in the site if it’s full of broken links or if the landing page (the page that is accessed from the search engine results) is dead. If the site is experiencing this problem regularly, many users won’t take the trouble to continue to search since they aren’t even sure if the desired content is still available.

Error Code 404 Prodigy Math Game

Identifing 404 errors on your own website

It’s important for website operators to prevent HTTP 404 pages. This applies to internal 404 error pages on their own website as well as external 404 error pages on other sites. There are numerous free tools available to help you find these broken links more easily. Three of the best and most well-known are:

  • Google Search Console (formerly known as 'Google Webmaster Tools'): if you already have a Google account and have registered your website there, you should make use of the Google Search Console option. Any 404 errors found by the Google crawler are displayed in the web tool and can also be marked as corrected here too. Additional functions enable you to find errors in robots.txt files and use crawling statistics to work out how often your site has been crawled by Google crawlers.
  • Dead Link Checker: one of the simplest and fastest tools for finding both internally and externally linked 404 pages is the Dead Link Checker. With this web app you simply enter the URL of the site you want to inspect and then start the check. Here you have the choice of checking a single web page or a whole site. The app lists all the tracked error pages with status codes and URL.
  • W3C Link Checker: this online tool from World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is particularly detailed when it comes to testing individual website pages, so the process takes longer to verify links than with other websites. The W3C Link Checker works just like the Dead Link Checker: you enter the URL and let the tool do the rest. It’s also possible to add further details

In 2008, a study carried out by the telecommunications arm of the Royal Mail found that '404' became a slang synonym for 'clueless' in the United Kingdom.

Creating a 404 error page

Some content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal automatically generate a 404 error page when a website’s URL can’t be found. The HTTP 404 page is just a simple standard error message, but most of them can be personalised using special CMS extensions.

404page Not Found

If your CMS doesn’t give you the option of creating or changing your 404 page, or if your website is solely based on HTML, PHP, etc., it will prove a bit more complicated. You can create an error page as follows:

  • Create an error page ('404.html' or '404.php') in the root directory (if there isn’t an existing one already).
  • Open the .htaccess file (or create one if needed) in the root directory, enter this in 'ErrorDocument 404 /404.html' and save the change. The error page will be generated with this code.
  • To see if it’s worked, try to access an unavailable webpage and hopefully the error 404 message should appear in the browser.

Why should you personalise your 404 error page?

Having a standard 404 error page is better than having none at all, although a customised page is more preferred for several reasons. On the one hand, you can be sure that visitors receive an accurate HTTP status code: for example, if the requested content is no longer present on the site, this should be conveyed with the '410 Gone' message. The visitor then knows that this content has been permanently deleted.

On the other hand, you can provide a specially-designed error page containing related links (i.e. links to your homepage or subpages where the content overlaps that which the visitor originally requested). You could even add a search function for your website. By taking these extra measures and providing incentives, you might be able to prevent visitors from leaving your site straight after seeing the 404 code.

With a creative 404 message you may even find that visitors are more forgiving. Naturally they will be disappointed at not finding content they were promised, but an original or funny 404 page could make up for it. If done properly, error pages do have some potential.

Make sure that the design of the error message matches the style of your website and you already have the foundation for a good 404 error page. If you let visitors know in a funny and light-hearted way that your content isn’t available, you’ll hopefully get a smile out of them and they won’t hold a grudge. For inspiration, check out our article on cool and creative 404 pages.

Related articles

No, this is not a collection of 404 errors or poorly designed sites – in fact, it’s the complete opposite! (If you don’t know what a 404 error is, click here). Titles for all of yourneeds. 404PageFound started in May 2009 with the goal of uncovering dated websites (generally from 1994-2001) that are still active and have avoided major updates. Many people think that sites created in the years following the dot-com bubble burst (2001-2003) are old. This may be true, but the differences between a site from 2001 and 1996 are quite striking. It’s overwhelming how much data from the days of Usenet, Gopher, and FTPs still exists in the depths of the Internet.

Accordingly, 404PageFound is by no means an attempt to emulate theInternet Archive’s Wayback Machine (or any other site that hosts former pages). The Wayback Machine serves an excellent and necessary purpose by continually capturing instances of websites for historical, technological, and cultural purposes. However, there is something distinct and unique about discovering an antiquated site that still exists in its natural state compared to browsing a library of how modern websites once looked. However, only in rare cases will a site in the Internet Archive still look like it did a decade ago. As such, 404PageFound will not be able to showcase most major web players since they constantly update their sites. However, even large sites (CNN, Yahoo!, and Business Week, to name a few) have old pages that remain in their original layout and have escaped deletion from the server. For reference, there were an estimated 100,000 websites in 1996, and close to 1 million in 1997. Many of these still remain in their original coding, although the vast majority have been removed or completely renovated. 404PageFound strives to excavate and display these remaining buried gems.

Additionally, 404PageFound is in no way a “Worst” of the Web. There are already plenty of these sites and no one benefits by insulting historic websites (many of which have been abandoned or forgotten as it is). In fact, many of the featured sites actually earned “Best of” awards back in the day. In today’s advanced Internet, such vintage sites would not, and do not, stand a chance of receiving awards. One of the goals of 404PageFound is to entertain as well as enlighten visitors who rarely stray from modern “2.0” mainstream sites. Plenty of throwback sites remain scattered around the Web. It is just a matter of finding them in a world dominated by “Page Not Found” errors.

404PageFound is a testament to the fact that decade-old pages can still co-exist with the dominant social web. Many of these featured sites suffer from “link rot” or the gradual loss of links (and therefore search engine presence) because websites that they link to disappear, change their content, or move to new locations. Such is the case in the realm of the Internet. Forgotten pages may exist, but it takes a certain knack and some detective work to find them. That’s where we come in (and you can help too).

404 Page Not Found Google

You (hopefully!) will not find any “404 Page Not Found” errors – we’ve already found plenty. You will only see images and links to captivating sites that remind us of the early days of the graphical World Wide Web.

  • Criteria used for posts on 404PageFound
  • Contact 404PageFound
  • Submit a site for consideration to 404PageFound
  • Internet/WWW books from 1994-1997 that can be found on the Amazon Marketplace

Want to find old websites on your own? The easiest way is to find old bookmarks and run the links through Xenu Link Sleuth (sorted by access date).

404 Page Not Found Shopify

2014 update: 188 of the original 653 featured sites (30%) have been removed in the past four years. Let’s hope the current 450 exist for years to come!

Coments are closed
Scroll to top