I recently installed Wordpess on an older flat-file website that had a massive amount of seperate pages. The owner would occasionally shuffle his content around (manually archiving) and he’d never heard of a redirect. As soon as I started working on the project, I noticed all the 404 traffic he was getting (not caused by me!). Since I installed WordPress for him, I was able to find a plugin to fix this situation. Enter Redirection.
If you’re not in the know, a 404 log is a list of your website pages that visitors attempted to view, but instead of showing them a page your gave them an error because the page was not found. This log is important because it represents missed opportunities. Your visitors came looking for something and you failed to provide it. This happens because incoming links and search engines don’t know you moved a file, so if someone links to your page and you move that page, that’s a 404 error.
The install is very simple, upload the folder into your plugins directory and enable the plugin. Once enabled, it will start building a 404 log. Head on over to Manage > Redirection > 404 Log to check out your log.
How cool is that? A simple screen that displays all of your 404 logs by URL, referrer or IP. You can then choose which URLs you want to fix. Sometimes people just mistype, but sometimes incoming links are wrong and need your action to fix them. Once you find a bad incoming link, click the little round green image, then fill out a new Target URL, or the page you want your bad link to forward to.
Then, to test this redirect, I simply type http://kevinboss.net/holyjesusHchrist into my browser. My “about “page should load.
This plugin even gives you a 404 RSS feed, and me being the rogue wordpress wizard I am, I placed the 404 feed right in my dashboard. It’s a little more useful than the default feeds.
There ya have it. A simple solution to a simple problem. Whether your site is new with a few pages, or 6 years old with 2,000 you’ll definitely benefit from keeping up to date with your 404 log & fixing problems as they occur.