How To Redirect 404 Error To Home Page - Shopify SEO - eCommerce Thesis

How To Redirect 404 Error To Home Page – Shopify SEO

Have you ever encountered a frustrating “404 Not Found” error message while browsing a website? It can be quite jarring for both you and the website owner. These errors occur when a user tries to access a page that doesn’t exist on the website anymore. While they’re inevitable sometimes, the good news is you can take steps to improve the user experience by redirect 404 error to your website’s homepage.

This guide will explain what 404 errors are, why they happen, and most importantly, how to redirect them to your homepage for websites outside of the Shopify platform. We’ll cover various methods depending on the platform your website is built on (e.g., WordPress, Wix, Squarespace). So, even if you’re not a tech whiz, you can follow these steps to ensure a smoother user experience for your website visitors.

What is a 404 Error?

A 404 error, also known as “Page Not Found,” is a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) status code indicating the server couldn’t locate the requested web page. This can happen for various reasons, such as:

  • Broken Links: If a link on your website points to a page that has been removed or renamed, it will result in a 404 error when clicked.
  • Mistyped URLs: Sometimes, users might simply mistype the URL while trying to access a page on your website.
  • Outdated Information: Links from external websites or old blog posts might reference pages that no longer exist on your site.

Why Redirect 404 Errors to Your Homepage?

Encountering a 404 error can be confusing and frustrating for visitors. It leaves them with a dead-end and no clear way to navigate further. By redirecting 404 errors to your homepage, you can offer them a starting point to explore your website and potentially find the information they were looking for. This improves the overall user experience and prevents them from simply leaving your site.

Additionally, redirecting 404 errors can help with search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines like Google may penalize websites with a high number of 404 errors. Redirecting them demonstrates that you’re actively managing your website and provides search engines with a more accurate picture of your website’s content.

Understanding Different Methods for Redirecting 404 Errors

There are three main approaches to redirecting 404 errors to your homepage, depending on the platform your website is built on:

  1. Using Your Website Builder’s Settings: Many popular website builders like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly offer built-in features to manage redirects. These tools allow you to easily configure a rule that automatically redirects any 404 error to your homepage.
  2. Using a Plugin (WordPress): If your website is built on, you can use a plugin to manage redirects. Popular options include Redirection, Yoast SEO, and Rank Math SEO. These plugins provide more flexibility and control over your redirects compared to built-in website builder settings.
  3. Using .htaccess File (Advanced Users): For websites with complex configurations or those requiring more granular control over redirects, you can edit the server-level “.htaccess” file. Important Note: This method is recommended for advanced users with some coding knowledge, as making mistakes in the .htaccess file can potentially break your website.

Redirecting 404 Errors Using Your Website Builder (Wix, Squarespace, Weebly)

Here’s a general guide on how to redirect 404 errors using your website builder’s settings (specific steps might vary slightly depending on the platform):

  1. Log in to your website builder’s dashboard.
  2. Navigate to the settings or configuration section.
  3. Look for a section related to SEO or redirects.
  4. Find the option for managing redirects.
  5. You might see a pre-defined rule for handling 404 errors, or you might need to create a new one.
  6. In the source field, enter “404” or a wildcard character indicating any non-existent page (e.g., “*”).
  7. In the destination field, enter the URL of your website’s homepage.
  8. Save the changes.

Redirecting 404 Errors Using .htaccess File (Advanced Users)

Important Note: This method is recommended for advanced users with some coding knowledge, as making mistakes in the .htaccess file can potentially break your website. If you’re not comfortable with code, it’s best to use the methods mentioned above.

Here’s a simplified overview of the steps involved in redirecting 404 errors using the .htaccess file:

  1. Access your website’s files through an FTP client or file manager provided by your web hosting service.
  2. Locate the .htaccess file in the root directory of your website. (Note: The .htaccess file might be hidden by default. You might need to enable viewing hidden files in your FTP client or file manager settings).
  3. Create a backup of the .htaccess file before making any changes. This ensures you can revert to a working version if something goes wrong.
  4. Open the .htaccess file in a text editor (e.g., Notepad++).
  5. Add the following code to the bottom of the file:
ErrorDocument 404 /index.php  (or your homepage URL)

Replace “/index.php” with the actual URL of your website’s homepage if it’s different.

  1. Save the changes to the .htaccess file.

Additional Tips for Managing 404 Errors

Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when managing 404 errors:

  • Identify the Cause: While redirecting 404 errors to your homepage is a good solution, it’s also helpful to identify the root cause of the errors. This could involve checking for broken links on your website or fixing outdated information. Tools like Google Search Console can help you identify broken links on your website.
  • Custom Error Page: For a more user-friendly approach, you can create a custom 404 error page. This page can explain what a 404 error is, provide a search bar to help visitors find relevant content, and offer links to your main website sections.
  • Test Your Redirects: Once you’ve implemented your redirects, it’s important to test them thoroughly. Use a free online tool or manually type in a non-existent URL to see if it redirects correctly to your homepage.

By redirecting 404 errors to your homepage, you can ensure a smoother user experience for your website visitors and potentially improve your website’s SEO. Following the steps outlined in this guide and considering the additional tips will help you effectively manage 404 errors, regardless of the platform your website is built on.