Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex process that involves many factors, one of which is the number of broken links or 404 errors on your page. In this blog, we'll explore how 404 errors can hurt your webshop's search engine rankings and what you can do to prevent them.
First, let's define what a 404 error is
When a user clicks on a link or enters a URL that does not exist on your website, they will receive a 404 error page. This page indicates that the requested content is not available and can be frustrating for users who were expecting to find certain information or products on your site.
From an SEO perspective, 404 errors can have a significant impact on your web shop's search ranking. Search engines like Google and Bing consider broken links a sign of poor user experience and may penalize your site accordingly.
Here are a few ways 404 errors can hurt your search rankings:
Search engines use robots to crawl websites and index their content. When a bot encounters a broken link, it can't follow it to its intended destination, which means it can't index the content on that page. This can result in a decrease in the indexing of your site and can prevent search engines from discovering important pages.
Increased bounce rates
When users encounter a 404 error, they are more likely to leave your site and look elsewhere for information. This can increase your bounce rate, which is the percentage of users who leave your site after viewing just one page. A high bounce rate can be a warning sign to search engines that your website is not providing valuable content to users.
Backlinks are links from other websites that point to your website. They are an important factor in determining your search ranking because they signal to search engines that other sites find your content valuable and trustworthy. When a backlink points to a broken page on your website, it is essentially useless because it provides no value to the user. This can result in lost backlinks, which can hurt your ranking in search results.
How can you prevent 404 errors from hurting your web store's search rankings? Here are some tips
Regularly monitoring broken links on your website can help you catch them before they can damage your search engine rankings. There are several tools available, such as Google Search Console and Ahrefs, that can help you identify broken links on your website. Once you identify them, you can use a 301 redirect or fix the link to prevent the error from occurring.
How to fix 404 errors in Google Search Console:
Step 1: Sign in to the Google Console and select your website.
Step 2: Select "Corrections" in the left menu.
Step 3: Click on "Fix Now" to see all 404 errors.
Step 4: Click on “Correct” for each error to correct it.
Step 5: Select the “Redirect” option and enter the new redirect URL.
Step 6: Click on “Save” to save the redirect.
Step 7: Click on “Verify” to check if the redirect has been set up successfully.
Step 8: Click "Finish" to complete the 404 error correction process.
The Shipshape CORE application offers an integrated solution for 404 links
A simple and intuitive module for monitoring and correcting 404 errors is available in the control interface of the Shipshape CORE application.
The module is integrated with the Google API and provides a clear graphical representation of the status of 404 links.
An important advantage of the Shipshape CORE application is that it provides a clear distinction between indexed and non-indexed 404 links, which means that you can focus on the indexed ones.
Although the total number of 404 errors on a page can be high, unindexed 404 links do not affect the SERP because they are not searchable by search engines.
For such links, simply set a redirection to the desired destination - a suitable category, a similar product or the homepage itself:
But you can also deal with numerous unindexed links in a simple way. For those that contain some common yet unique tags like those in the example below, you can set up a bulk redirect.
For example, you can mark all non-existent blog posts of a certain category and redirect them with one action to a new address - in this case, to the corresponding blog category:
What else can you do?
Create custom 404 pages
Instead of using the default 404 error page, create a custom page that provides users with useful information and suggests other pages they might be interested in. This can help keep users on your website and prevent them from leaving.
Update your backlinks
If you discover a backlink that points to a broken page on your website, contact the website owner and ask them to update the link to point to a page that is active. This can prevent lost backlinks and maintain your search rankings.
In conclusion, 404 errors can have a significant impact on your webshop's search ranking. By understanding how they can hurt your rankings and taking steps to prevent them, you can help maintain your site's credibility and improve your user experience. Therefore, we advise that you definitely carry out regular audits!
Regularly auditing your website can help you catch broken links before they have a chance to hurt your search engine rankings. Schedule a regular audit, such as once a month or once a quarter, to review your website for broken links and other issues that can affect your search engine rankings.
By tracking broken links on your website, creating custom 404 pages, updating backlinks, and performing regular audits, you can prevent 404 errors from harming your web store's search engine rankings.
Keep in mind that providing a seamless user experience is key to maintaining a high search ranking and keeping customers interested in your webshop.
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