How to Easily Track 404 Pages and Redirect Them in WordPress
Are you looking for an easy way to find 404 error pages on your WordPress website and redirect them?
404 errors occur when users try to reach a page on your website that no longer exists. These errors create a bad user experience, which can lead to a drop in search engine rankings and lower eCommerce sales.
In this article, we will show you how to easily track 404 pages and redirect them in WordPress.
What Is a 404 Error?
A 404 error is an HTTP status code that shows that the server couldn’t reach the web page you are trying to visit.
This means that if you enter a URL of a web page that does not exist, then you will see a ‘404 Page Not Found’ error.
Now, there are many reasons why the 404 error occurs. It could be because the visitor made a mistake when entering the URL, the page was deleted from the website, or the domain name no longer exists.
Another cause of the 404 error is when a page was moved to another URL but wasn’t properly redirected, resulting in a broken link.
Finally, sometimes server malfunctions can also lead to 404 errors on a WordPress website.
Why Track and Redirect 404 Pages in WordPress?
Now that you know the different causes of 404 errors, let’s take a look at why it’s extremely important for website owners to track 404 errors and fix them.
404 errors are bad for your site’s user experience. If users can’t find the page they are looking for, then they will likely leave your site and go to your competitors.
This means you will lose potential customers and miss an opportunity to convert your visitors into subscribers.
Aside from that, 404 errors have a negative impact on your WordPress SEO rankings. Search engine ranking algorithms often penalize websites when they run into broken links.
Not to mention, these broken pages will cause you to lose valuable backlinks for your website, which results in lower domain authority and a significant drop in Google keyword rankings.
With that being said, let’s take a look at how you can easily track 404 pages and redirect them in WordPress. We will cover two different methods, so feel free to click the links below to jump ahead to your preferred method:
If you’d prefer written instructions, then just keep reading.
Method 1: Track & Redirect 404 Pages Using AIOSEO (Recommended)
The easiest way to track and fix 404 pages on your WordPress website is by using the All in One SEO plugin for WordPress, which is also known as AIOSEO. It’s the best SEO WordPress plugin that is used by over 3 million professionals.
AIOSEO allows you to easily find pages with broken links and fix them with just a few clicks using its powerful Redirection Manager.
The best thing about AIOSEO is that it helps you set up faster 301 redirects, which helps you improve search engine rankings.
For this tutorial, we will be using the AIOSEO Pro version because it includes the powerful Redirection Manager addon. There is a free version of AIOSEO, but it doesn’t include 404 monitoring or the Redirection Manager.
First, you will need to install and activate the AIOSEO Pro plugin. For more details, please see our step-by-step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.
Activating Redirects and Enabling 404 Error Logs in AIOSEO
Once the plugin is active, you can go to All in One SEO » Redirects and click the ‘Activate Redirects’ button.
After that, you need to visit the ‘Settings’ tab under Redirects and configure the plugin to keep 404 logs and track pages with broken links.
Simply scroll down to the ‘Logs’ sections and make sure that the ‘404 Logs’ option is enabled. Next, select the time period to record the 404 logs using the dropdown menu. We recommend no longer than one month for optimal server performance.
Once you are done, go ahead and click the ‘Save Changes’ button.
You will now see a ‘404 Logs’ tab in the Redirects section in AIOSEO. When you first enable 404 logs, this page will not have any data because it only starts monitoring 404 pages after you enable the setting.
In time, it will show a list of all the URLs that have a 404 error. You will see how many times someone tried to visit the link in the ‘Hits’ column and the date when it was last visited in the ‘Last Accessed’ column.
Once you have identified the pages with broken links, you can simply redirect them by clicking the ‘Add Redirect’ button. You should redirect the URL to a relevant page on your website.
When you click the button, you will see the option to enter a target URL and select the redirection type from the dropdown menu.
For example, you can move a page permanently by selecting the ‘301 Moved Permanently’ option.
After that, click the ‘Add Redirect’ button, and your broken link will now automatically redirect to the new target URL.
Clearing 404 Error Logs in AIOSEO
With time, the size of your log file can grow and take up a lot of disk space. A lack of WordPress hosting disk space can lead to errors. To make sure that you don’t run into this problem, it’s a best practice to delete and clear 404 error logs.
With AIOSEO, you can easily delete any individual 404 error from your logs by clicking the trash can icon.
You can also bulk delete your 404 logs by going to All in One SEO » Tools and then clicking on the ‘Database Tools’ tab.
Now, just scroll down to the ‘Logs’ section and click the ‘Clear 404 Logs’ button.
Permalink Monitoring in AIOSEO
Aside from tracking 404 errors, the AIOSEO Redirect Manager also comes with permalink monitoring. This means that if you delete a page on your site, or change the URL of any blog post, then AIOSEO will automatically notify you to set up a redirect.
In some cases, AIOSEO can even set up the proper 301 redirects for you without any effort.
Bonus Tip: Set Up Faster 301 Redirects in WordPress With AIOSEO
AIOSEO also allows you to set up faster redirects by going to the ‘Settings’ tab and choosing the ‘Web Server’ redirect method.
This allows you to unlock significant speed improvements when compared to the default WordPress/PHP redirect method.
Method 2: Track & Redirect 404 Pages Using the Redirection Plugin
The next method to track and redirect 404 errors is by using the free Redirection Plugin for WordPress. This is an advanced plugin, so some beginners may find it harder to use.
First, you need to install and activate the plugin. For more details, please see our step-by-step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.
Upon activation, go to Tools » Redirection and then scroll down and click the ‘Start Setup’ button to set up your redirects.
After that, the plugin will ask whether you would like to monitor permalink changes in WordPress and keep logs of redirects and 404 errors.
Just select the checkbox for these options and click the ‘Continue Setup’ button.
The plugin will now test the REST API status.
When the status result comes back as ‘Good’, you can click the ‘Finish Setup’ button.
After that, the plugin will set up redirection. This will take several seconds, and when it is complete, you will need to click the ‘Continue’ button and then the ‘Ready to begin!’ button.
Now, you can start to redirect your 404 pages.
Simply enter the URL of the page you want to redirect in the ‘Source URL’ column.
Next, select whether you’d like to exactly match the query parameters, ignore them, or pass them through to the target URL from the ‘Query Parameter’ dropdown menu.
Now, you need to enter the Target URL to where the 404 page will be redirected, keep the Group option as ‘Redirection’, and click the ‘Add Redirect’ button.
If you want more options to set up redirection, then just click the gear icon next to the ‘Add Redirect’ button.
You can begin by adding the old URL showing 404 in the ‘Source URL’ field, selecting the Query Parameter like before, and adding a title to describe the purpose of this redirect.
After that, select the ‘Match’ option from the dropdown. You will see multiple options, including URL only, URL and referrer, URL and user agent, and URL and login status.
In most cases, you want to use the ‘URL and referrer’ setting. That’s because if you see several 404 requests for a specific page, then those users probably clicked on the same link to the wrong URL rather than all typing the same wrong web address.
Now, whenever someone else clicks on the broken URL, it will automatically redirect them to the new location.
Next, make sure that your action is ‘Redirect to URL’. The other options are complex and require advanced technical knowledge.
For the redirection type, you need to select an option from the HTTP code dropdown. For a permanent redirection, this should be ‘301 – Moved Permanently’.
Lastly, enter the target URL in the ‘Matched Target’ field. After you have entered this information, just hit the ‘Add Redirect’ button.
You can go to the new URL to test and make sure that the redirection is working properly.
The plugin also has the option to track 404 error logs. Simply click on the ‘404s’ tab at the top, and the plugin will show you recent 404 errors that occurred on your site since you installed the plugin.
Note: If you just enabled the Redirection plugin, then the 404 log page will be empty. It only starts keeping a log of 404 errors after the plugin is activated.
Bonus: Design a Custom 404 Page With SeedProd
Setting up redirects means that visitors shouldn’t run into many 404 error pages on your WordPress website. However, if they do land on a 404 page, it’s a good idea to have a custom design that will help out your users.
Including your custom branding can make your 404 page look more reputable. Adding a contact form can allow users to tell you the address they entered that triggered the 404 error. You can even include links to your popular posts or products so that visitors will be tempted to stay on your website.
Luckily, it’s easy to design a custom 404 page with SeedProd. It’s the best WordPress landing page builder and comes with plenty of customizable templates for 404 pages.
You can learn more in our complete guide on how to improve your 404 page template in WordPress.
We hope this article helped you learn how to track 404 pages and redirect them in WordPress. You may also want to see our guide on how to increase your blog traffic the easy way or our expert picks of the best 404 error page examples to inspire your website design.
If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.