Found a very useful article for anyone utilizing WordPress sites. The premise is that the structure of the WordPress 404 error pages could be killing your web traffic and messing with your SEO efforts. The author gives a variety of useful solutions.
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Is Your WordPress 404 Page Killing Traffic & Drinking Your SEO Juice?
by Joe Foley
A 404 page is the error page that users see when the page they’re looking for is not at the URL they’ve landed on. Some 404 pages are creative, some are useless, and some don’t even exist at all.
Users might land on a 404 page for various reasons – the page has been moved or deleted, they’ve followed a badly constructed link, or they may have typed in the wrong URL.
“Not Found” pages are more than just a nuisance, however, they may be losing you both visitors and SEO juice as well.
Is Your 404 Page Hurting You?
Let’s be honest. How often have you simply backed out of a site when you landed on an error page? Unless you’re a rare and patient bird, the answer is probably “pretty often.” There may be things you can do on your own site, however, to help keep impatient visitors hanging around.
In addition to disappearing visitors, there’s also another problem with “Not Found” pages. If someone is linking to a page that has moved, or they have made a mistake in the construction of a link, then any SEO juice that would normally pass to you with that link is lost. But if you can redirect that URL, you can transfer that juice to another page.
And so even though error pages can cause problems, those problems can be minimized to some degree, and the six plugins we go over below are aimed at doing just that.
Where Is My 404 Page?
Before we get into the plugins, however, if you aren’t familiar with 404 pages, you can see what your 404 page currently looks like by typing in some address where you know a page doesn’t exists, for example: mysite.com/somethingcrazyyyyyyy.
The look and content of your 404 error page is controlled by your theme (template file 404.php). For example, here’s a look at the default error page found with the Twenty Twelve theme:
If your theme doesn’t have a 404 page, and you’d like to create one, you can learn how to do that here.
OK, let’s get onto the plugins.
1. 404 Redirected
The 404 Redirected plugin does a number of things, but it seems the most valuable among them are that it lets you provide suggestions on your 404 page for users to click on, and perhaps even more importantly, it gives you detailed info on what pages users were looking for.
In order to get the plugin working, you must insert a line a code into an already existing 404.php page (Appearance > Editor > 404.php). Where you insert this line of code is also where suggestions to other pages will appear (should you decide to use the suggestions function).