What is a 404 error?

Learn what a 404 error is, what causes them, and how to fix them to improve a website's usability and search engine rankings.

What is a 404 error?

The 404 error, also known as "404 Not Found" or "Page Not Found", is a standard HTTP status code that occurs when the web server is unable to find the requested page or resource. This can happen when a user enters an invalid link or an incorrect or defunct URL in the address bar of their browser.

Causes of a 404 error

A 404 error can occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • A failed connection between a browser and the web server
  • An error in the database belonging to the website
  • The page in question was deleted or its URL path was changed
  • A typo in the URL
  • Problems with DNS settings

Effects of a 404 error on a website

A 404 error can have a negative impact on both users and search engines. When a user encounters a 404 error, it can cause frustration and confusion, often leading to the user leaving the site and possibly not returning. In addition, a high number of 404 errors on a website can cause search engines like Google to downgrade the website in their rankings, reducing the website's visibility and its chance of driving traffic and conversions.

How to fix 404 error

To fix 404 errors, webmasters should regularly check their websites for invalid or missing links and correct them accordingly. One way to do this is to use webmaster tools like Google Search Console, which can help identify and fix errors on a website. Webmasters can also create custom 404 error pages that contain helpful information and links to other relevant pages to guide users back to the right path.


A 404 error is a common HTTP status code that indicates that a requested page or resource could not be found. To avoid such errors, webmasters should regularly check their websites for invalid or missing links and correct them. Custom 404 error pages can help improve user experience and minimize negative impact on search engine rankings.

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