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How to manage 404 errors and redirects to new content in Joomla

It happens to all of us. No matter how hard you try, there's always a link that slips through your set up redirects and shows the user 404 error. How to create the right "not found" page and manage 301 and 302 redirects in Joomla website? Read further in the article.

What is a 404 error?

It is a status code from the client error group, returned by the server when the requested file is not found. When a request is sent, the webserver responds with a code. The first four digits indicate that the error is caused by the client, the next two digits indicate that the client requested a non-existent address.

How to solve "not found"?

It is not rare that a visitor comes across a page that no longer exists. This can happen for many reasons such as a link that no longer exists, a wrongly indexed page on Google, etc.

An intuitive page design that informs the user that the page no longer exists and directs them to another functional page has a big impact on the customer experience as well as the page ranking and click-through rates.

The 404 pages should contain a message that directs the user to an existing page. Often this is to the homepage, but a better solution is to offer other links that lead to popular content on your site.

This way, you can keep the visitor on the site and increase the chances of converting them into a customer. 

You can use Search Console to identify "not found error" pages.

If you have moved the content elsewhere or removed it completely, it would be a good idea to 301 redirect the page.

How to do 301 and 302 redirects in Joomla?

Redirection is the most reliable way to guide the user to the correct path to the page where the desired content is currently located.

A 301 redirect informs about a permanent move of the content to another location, while a 302 gives information about a temporary move.

Although there are several types of redirects, if our goal is to move Google rankings, only a 301 redirect makes sense. The 301 redirect is "Moved permanently". What you're saying is that the original URL no longer exists. But you need to be careful in case the redirected page is penalized by Google. The penalty carries over to the new URL as well.

Also, beware of looping redirects or multiple 301 redirects (applies to 302s, too).

You can set up these redirects for a Joomla site using W7 SEO Uplifter as follows:

1. In the dashboard go to 301 Redirects Manager

2. Click "New"

3. Add the old URL, the new URL a choose the redirect code

4. In Plugins checker check the W7 SEO Uplifger Redirects plugin, that must be enabled for redirects to work

Does Google transfer the ranking of the original URL to the new one?

Google favors us in this regard. It tries to transfer the rankings and index the new URL quickly. However, it only does the ranking transfer if it is itself convinced that the redirect is of the same or significantly similar content. Google is relatively fast and responds within days.