How to Use 301 Redirects to Fix 404 Errors in WordPress
Are you looking for a way to fix 404 issues in WordPress? Then keep reading to learn how in today’s beginner-friendly tutorial.
Many people assume that the website they are visiting is malfunctioning when they encounter a 404 error page. After all, they’re not viewing the website they expected to see. Instead, they receive anything along the lines of:
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How to Fix 404 Errors in WordPress: A 404 Page Example
This assumption, however, is wrong. A 404 error does not always indicate that there is a problem with your website.
A 404 error simply implies that the URL you requested was not found. This could be caused by a broken link or a simple misspelling. In other words, 404s are considered a client-side error, meaning that something went wrong on the visitor’s end, whether directly or indirectly.
Even so, 404 errors will invariably reflect poorly on your website, particularly among visitors who are unaware of the error’s origin.
They can also cause issues, as a high number of errors will surely detract from the visitor experience. And, if the missing webpage is a sales page, well, that pretty much eliminates any chance of that visitor converting.
Today, we’ll look at three frequent reasons of 404 problems and how to ‘fix’ them using 301 redirects using the Redirection plugin.
While you may manually alter the.htaccess file to make these 301 redirects without using a plugin, the Redirection plugin is the quickest and easiest way to fix 404 problems in WordPress.
The many circumstances for resolving 404 problems in WordPress
The following are the three scenarios we’ll consider:
Changing URLs on your own
Inbound links pointing to well-known destinations are causing issues.
Inbound connections pointing to unknown locations are causing issues.
The first scenario entails altering URLs on your own.
This is the only case in which we have complete control.
If we decide to change our URLs for whatever reason – most usually as a result of changing permalinks – all of our previous URLs become obsolete immediately.
The original URL no longer exists when we transition from example.com/2016/old-link to example.com/new-link. If you try to access that URL, you’ll get an error.
Of course, we want our old posts and pages to continue to function. As a result, we’ll need to set up 301 redirects to fix the issue.
In most cases, a 301 redirect is the optimum redirect because it informs search engines that the web page has moved permanently. As a result, the search engines will not penalize you for the modifications, and your SEO ranking will remain intact – learn more about the different sorts of redirects here. The Redirection plugin, fortunately, specializes in 301 redirects.
Let’s break down scenario one into two more options:
a) Changes to existing URLs
You’re probably getting a lot of 404s if you’ve previously modified your URLs. That’s terrible news for everyone, so it’s time for a short – or protracted – firefighting job, depending on the size of your website.
You’ll have to manually build the 301 redirects in this circumstance.
Make a list of all your old URLs and the new URLs that belong to them. Select Tools / Redirection from the drop-down menu.
Add one of your redundant URLs to the Source URL column under the Add new redirection heading. Although the Match field has a variety of options, ‘URL only’ works best here, so leave it alone.
We can also keep the Action field set to ‘Redirect to URL’ because we know where our web page will be redirected to. Fill in the Regular expression field with nothing.
Finally, in the Target URL column, type the right URL. After that, click the Add Redirection button to complete the process.
301 Redirect Redirection
Now it’s time to put the reroute to the test. If you’ve done the redirect correctly, you’ll be redirected to the correct URL right away if you go to the old URL.
Great job, your first try at resolving 404 issues in WordPress worked!
This is a time-consuming process, as it necessitates setting a manual redirect for each and every page. There is, however, a better approach if it is not too late.
b) Changes in URLs in the future
Do yourself a favor and install the Redirection plugin today if you’re thinking about changing your URLs. This will save you a great deal of time and aggravation in the long run.
Because Redirection tracks all changes to existing URLs and creates a 301 redirect automatically when it detects any, this is the case.
Before you begin, navigate to Tools / Redirection and then to the Groups tab. Create a new group, name it, and set it to WordPress Posts. Then click Add.
Select the group you just created in the Monitor changes to posts area on the Options tab. Press the Update button.
Go to a post and click on the URL extension to change it. After you’ve finished making your changes, click OK and then Update.
When you return to Tools / Redirection, you’ll discover that the plugin has already completed the task. It’s already set up a 301 redirect, directing traffic from the old URL to the new one:
The second scenario involves faulty inbound links pointing to well-known destinations.
However, you’re not to responsible for the majority of 404 errors. For instance, don’t we all want a lot of inbound links from high-authority sites? But what if one of those websites makes a mistake and links to the incorrect location?
Anyone who clicks that link will be directed to a URL that does not exist, resulting in a 404 error. How can you fix this problem if you have no control over the external website?
Contacting the webmaster about any known broken links is one method. If everything else fails, you can always rely on the Redirection plugin.
Select Tools / Redirection from the drop-down menu. Then, select the 404s tab. This screen will display a list of all 404 errors that have occurred on your website. Try it out by visiting a URL on your site that doesn’t exist — the Redirection plugin will alert you to the 404 error in real time.
Not all 404s are worth resolving, but if you see the same URL show many times, you should redirect it to the correct location. That is, if the proper location is evident.
Click the Add redirect button once you’ve decided where the link should go.
In the Target URL area, type the relevant URL. Leave the Match and Action parameters at their defaults, then click Add Redirection once more.
Isn’t it simple? Now try visiting the broken URL to see if your redirect is working.
Scenario three: erroneous inbound connections that lead to unknown locations
When the proper destination could be determined in scenario two, we repaired links that pointed to the erroneous site.
This won’t always be the case, and some links may just be too infrequently utilized to be worth the effort of correcting.
Remember that you can never completely prevent or repair 404 problems in WordPress. They are an unavoidable element of maintaining a website. The question is, how can you minimize the impact of a 404 error?
The Twenty Sixteen theme’s default error message looks like this. Let’s face it: a page like this serves no use, right?
Even if the correct destination cannot be established, you can still provide a more beneficial service to the customer.
For example, to get visitors up and running, you may direct them to your most useful resources. Alternatively, you might simply send them to an existing page, such as the homepage.
Every WordPress theme includes a default 404 error page, but as we’ve seen, they’re not necessarily the most useful or innovative. You can personalize your 404 page by altering the 404.php file in your theme or by adding a plugin.
If you want to go the plugin way – which is by far the more user-friendly of the two – I recommend SeedProd’s 404 Page plugin:
SeedProd’s 404 Page
SeedProd is the author(s) of this piece.
1.0.0 is the most recent version.
The information on this page was last updated on July 16, 2018.
Ratings of 100 percent
Requirements for WP 3+
This option will not, in and of itself, fix 404 errors in WordPress. Visitors are significantly more likely to stay on your website if you provide them with a useful alternative to the content they were looking for. And who knows, maybe you can still get that conversion.
What is the best way to fix 404 issues in WordPress? Feel free to share your ideas and ask any questions in the comments section below!
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