How to Easily Track 404 Pages and Redirect Them

Proper website maintenance involves a number of things. You not only have to ensure that your links are alive and that your content is relevant. But, you also need to update your plugins and ensure that all the aspects of your website are in sync. And one of the surprisingly important aspects of website maintenance is being able to track 404 pages and redirect them.

What is a 404 page?

404 error stands for an HTTP status code. Simply put, this error signifies that the server couldn’t reach your page. This, in turn, means that if you enter the URL of the page in question, you get a 404 error code. Why does this happen? Well, there can be a number of reasons why a 404 error occurs. It could be a simple oversight (like you imputing the wrong URL). Or it can be something more serious like the page being deleted or a server malfunctioning. A common reason for 404 errors is that the page you are looking for has a different URL, but it wasn’t redirected properly. This results in a broken link.

Why you need to track 404 pages and redirect them

With this in mind, should you even bother with tacking 404 pages? Well, in short, yes. Having 404 pages on your website can cause serious damage to your traffic. The people visiting your website will soon leave it if they run into a 404 page.

An annoyed woman.
If you fail to track 404 pages and redirect them you will soon annoy your visitors with useless pages.

Furthermore, the SEO algorithm will penalize you if you have too many 404 pages. Add to this that all the links (and the traffic value they brink) that were on the original page are now void. So, all things considered, it is in your best interests to track 404 pages and ensure that they are redirected to the right URL.

Methods for tracking and redirecting 404 pages

While there are numerous methods for tracking and redirecting 404 pages, we will stick with the one that we feel gives the best results. While the process of tracking and redirecting isn’t simple, it can be quite straightforward. So, all we ask is that you approach this with full concentration and carefully follow the instructions we give you.

Using AIOSEO

AIOSEO is an abbreviation for the All in One SEO plugin for WordPress. With it, you can successfully track and redirect 404 pages, as well as maintain your overall SEO rank and maintain your website. Due to its capabilities, it is widely used among professionals, with over 2 million professionals currently using it.

A professional tackling SEO.
Over 2 million professionals use AIOSEO for various purposes.

Unfortunately, the free version of AIOSEO cannot be used for tracking and redirecting 404 pages. For this, you will need to get the pro version. Once you do, here is what’s ahead.

Firstly, you’ll need to download and install AIOSEO. Doing so is pretty much the same as it would be for any other plugin, so we won’t go into much detail here. Once you’ve installed and activated it, go to the All in One SEO -> Redirects and click on the “Activate Redirects” button. Once you do that, head to the “Settings” tab in the Redirects and enable 404 logs. The option for doing so is in the Logs section. You can record your logs for different amounts of time, but we suggest that you don’t go over a month. Once you are done simply click on “Save Changes”.

And voila, now you have an active “404 Log” in the Redirects section in AIOSEO.

Utilizng 404 log

At the start, your 404 logs won’t have any data. This is because you first need to enable the setting for monitoring. Once you do activate it, AIOSEO will automatically keep track of all the 404 errors and display them here. Besides knowing which URLs have a 404 error, you will also know how many times the link was visited (“Hits” column). And you will know the last time someone visited it (“Last Accessed” column). After you’ve identified the pages with the 404 error you can proceed to redirect them.

Redirecting

To redirect a page you need to click on the “Add Redirect” button in the section for the page. After clicking the button you will get the option to enter the target URL and select the redirection type. There are different options in the drop-down menu, so try to understand what each of them means before you make your choice. A common option is to go with the 301 Moved Permanently or to have all 404 pages redirect to your home page. But there may be better options depending on your situation.

Once you’ve selected the redirection type you need to click on the “Add Redirect” button. Now the previously broken link will automatically redirect to the new target URL.

Log overcrowding

It is not uncommon for website managers to run into the issue of having a too large log file. You’d be surprised at how fast it can grow and unnecessarily take up space. To avoid this from happening your best course of action is to delete and clear 404 error logs. AIOSEO allows you to do this in a surprisingly straightforward way.

Graph showing increase in log data after you track 404 pages and redirect them for a while.
Logs can take up a decent bit of data fairly quickly.

Any log that you want to delete you can simply click on and chose the trash can icon. If you want to delete in bulk, simply go to the All in One SEO -> Tools and select the “Database Tools” tab. Here you need to scroll down to the “Logs” section and click on the “Clear 404 Logs” button.

Final thoughts

As you can see AIOSEO can help you track 404 pages and redirect them with relative ease. You can even create a custom 404 page if you believe that it will help your website. Or, you can set up for faster redirects by using the Web Server redirect method in the Settings tab. While this process is a bit more difficult and requires a bit more knowledge about PHP, it will make dealing with 404 errors much faster.

 

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