Why Does My Website Say 404: Page Not Found?
With everything you have to consider, it’s easy to miss a small detail here or there. But unfortunately, those small details can have big impacts.
That’s why it can be so startling to see the message “404: Page Not Found” when you try to look at your website.
What exactly does that mean? And how can you get your site back to working condition?
What does 404: Page Not Found mean?
In technical terms, 404: Page Not Found means the server that holds a website isn’t showing the website.
A 404 error can happen as a result of:
- Moving a page
- Moving a page’s directory
- Moving a whole site
- Not adding 301 redirects
- Mistyping a URL
If you’re trying to access your own site, it means you have some looking to do in your host server.
Let’s take a look at five potential solutions for this issue.
How do I fix 404: Page Not Found?
Most of the time, this problem is caused by one of five issues.
You can fix all of them either on your server or in your own browser, depending on the cause.
1. Moving a page
If you recently added or moved a page, it’s possible that the page was placed in the wrong folder.
Check the pathway to the page you want to access and compare it against what you see in your file transfer protocol (FTP) service or content management system (CMS).
If the page is in the wrong place, move it to the proper location and try to access it in your browser again.
If that doesn’t fix the problem, you may have to get in touch with your website host to determine the proper fix.
Most of the time, that won’t be necessary. Just double-check your pathways and make sure your URL is right!
2. Moving a page’s directory
Sometimes the page itself may not be the cause of a 404 — it could be the page’s containing folder.
This is sometimes called the page’s “directory.” If you move a folder that contains pages, the URL for every one of those pages will also change.
That means you need to access each page with its new URL. The names of each folder in your URL should match what’s in your FTP service or CMS.
If they don’t, just retype the URL in your browser! That should fix the issue right away.
3. Moving a whole site
If you’ve recently moved your entire site — meaning you’ve rehosted it — you may have a 404 show up while the site readjusts to its new home.
While 99% of website hosts do everything they can to minimize downtime, it still happens every once in a while.
In this scenario, you have two options.
First, you can wait it out. Your website shouldn’t be down for more than a few minutes after moving it.
Second, you can contact your new website host. They can give you an estimate of how long it’ll take for your site to become operational, and if they’re wrong, you can start discussing other possibilities.
4. Forgetting 301 redirects
If you’ve had to recently move pages (or your whole site), it’s possible that you didn’t put proper 301 redirects in place.
Fortunately, this is an easy fix. You can learn everything you want to know about 301 redirects (301s) from WebFX.
In a nutshell, a 301 redirect tells an Internet user that your page has permanently moved to a new URL. It also tells search engines like Google so that you don’t lose any rankings for valuable search terms, but you can still customize your site the way you want it.
The only other kind of redirect is a 302, which is called a temporary redirect. This doesn’t transfer SEO value, and in general, a 301 is always better to use.
So if you want an old URL to send users to the same page with a different address, you need to implement a 301 redirect on that page.
Otherwise, your website visitors (including you) will only ever see a 404 message.
5. Mistyping a URL
Often, the simplest solution works best.
Before you make phone calls or get worried, double-check the spelling of your URL. Typos are a common mistake, and could be leading you to think you have a problem when your website is perfectly fine.
WebFX: Your one-stop shop for website improvements
At WebFX, we have a full team of specialized web designers, developers, marketers, social media experts, and more, all under one roof.
We have more than 25 years of experience creating and optimizing websites, so if you want a reliable site that shows your business in the best possible light, we’re your solution!
We’ve done great things for our clients in the past. Now we’ll do them for you.
Contact us today to start improving your site!