What is a 404 Error?
When a URL on a website is requested, but the URL does not exist, the website returns a 404 error to indicate that a page cannot be found.
Some ways that 404 errors are triggered are:
- A user clicked on a link from another website that leads to a page on the site that does not exist
- The URL used to exist on the site but has since been deleted
- A user mistypes the URL of a page on the site
- A bot / spider that crawls the website arrived at the URL in error (Googlebot, Yahoo bot, Bing bot, etc)
What is a 404 Error Page?
When any of the events listed above happen, the server will respond with a 404 error, and will also respond with a page of content to display. This page of content is called a 404 error page.
How Does a Brilliant Directories Website Handle 404 Error Pages?
In the past, all Brilliant Directories websites would use the homepage as the 404 error page. Using the homepage as the 404 error page is great for human visitors to the site, as the content the visitor was looking for at an erroneous URL can often be found from the homepage of a site.
However, the homepage is also typically one of the most resource-intensive pages of a website, and loading the homepage will usually consume more bandwidth than loading any other page of a site. Depending on the content that is displayed on the homepage, it can consume anywhere between 1 MB - 10 MB of bandwidth every time the homepage is loaded.
If a bot or spider (non-human user) attempts to load erroneous URLs on the website, they will always be served the homepage, which will consume a significant amount of bandwidth.
In order to minimize the amount of bandwidth used when a 404 error is triggered, we have created a default 404 error page that simply notifies the visitor that the page they requested does not exist, which is typical behavior for most websites around the web. This new page also only consumes about 1 KB of bandwidth each time it is loaded, which is about 1,000 - 10,000 times less than the typical homepage. This will save a significant amount of bandwidth from being consumed by 404 errors.
There is also a link on the default 404 page to the homepage for real visitors to click on so they can continue to look for the information they were originally requesting. Here is an example of the new lightweight 404 page:
Can the 404 Error Page be Changed?
While the default 404 error page will work for most websites, we have also made ways to edit the default 404 page, set other existing pages to be the 404 error page, and to create completely custom 404 error pages.
How to Change Which Page Is Used as the 404 Error Page
To use an existing page of the site as the 404 error page, simply enter the permalink (URL) of the page into the "error_404" Advanced Setting.
For example, to set the site to go back to the old method of setting the homepage (permalink /home) as the 404 error page of the site, enter "home" or "/home" into the "error_404" Advanced Setting:
- Navigate to SETTINGS >> ADVANCED SETTINGS
- On the dropdown, select the page that will display once the 404 error page is loaded in the front end:
- Once this change is saved, the page selected here will be used as the 404 error page.