Perplexing Ways to Redirect 404 Pages in WordPress Without a Plugin
As a WordPress user, you may have stumbled upon a befuddling 404 error page once or twice. This vexing page manifests when a visitor endeavors to access a page on your website that has been deleted or does not exist. It is unpleasant for visitors and can have unfavorable outcomes for your website’s user experience and SEO.
The Importance of Redirecting 404 Pages
Before we unravel the specifics of how to redirect 404 pages in WordPress sans a plugin, we must fathom why it is important to do so.
Enhance User Experience
When visitors are faced with frustrating 404 pages, it can be disconcerting, and they may exit your website. Redirecting them to a proper page or the homepage can improve their overall experience and keep them on your site.
Reduce Bounce Rate
High bounce rates can have negative effects on your website’s SEO. Redirecting 404 pages to other pertinent pages can entice visitors to explore your website more, reduce your bounce rate, and show Google that your website has valuable and relevant content.
Retain Link Juice
If you have backlinks pointing to a page on your website that no longer exists, redirecting the 404 page to another relevant page can help retain link juice and authority to your website.
How to Redirect 404 Pages Without a Plugin
Now that we have covered the benefits of redirecting 404 pages let’s dive into how to do it without using a plugin.
Step 1: Identify 404 Pages
The initial step is to seek out the 404 pages on your website. You can use Google Search Console, a free tool from Google that provides a detailed report on your website’s performance, to assist you. Once you’ve confirmed your website, log in to Google Search Console, head to the ‘Coverage’ section, and inspect any errors or issues with your website, including 404 errors. Another way to do this is by using website crawler tools like Screaming Frog or Ahrefs to crawl your website and uncover any 404 errors.
Step 2: Create a 301 Redirect
Once you have identified the 404 pages on your website, the subsequent step is to establish a 301 redirect. A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect that notifies search engines and visitors that the requested page has been moved permanently to another location.
To create a 301 redirect, you have to add some code to your website’s .htaccess file, which is a configuration file that controls how your website behaves. To access the .htaccess file, log in to your hosting account’s cPanel dashboard or use an FTP client to access your website’s files. Once you have accessed the file, add the following code at the top of the file:
# Redirect 404 Errors
ErrorDocument 404 /index.php?error=404
The above code establishes a custom 404 error page and redirects all 404 errors to the homepage. You can substitute the ‘index.php’ with the URL of the page you desire to redirect the 404 errors to. For example:
# Redirect 404 Errors
ErrorDocument 404 /new-404-page.php
This code redirects all 404 errors to the ‘new-404-page.php’ file.
Step 3: Test the Redirect
Once you have created the 301 redirect, it is crucial to test it to ensure it is working appropriately. You can do this by attempting to access the URL of the deleted or missing page on your website. If the redirect is working correctly, you should be redirected to the new URL or page. You can also use the Redirect Checker tool to test the redirect and confirm that it is correctly set up.
Redirecting 404 pages in WordPress is a crucial step in improving your website’s user experience, retaining link juice, and reducing your bounce rate. By following the steps above, you can create 301 redirects without a plugin and ensure that visitors find the information they are seeking on your website. So, the next time a perplexing 404 error page appears on your website, redirect it to ensure a seamless experience for visitors.