Did you know you should ensure that your 404 error page has a Google Analytics 4 tracking code (or tracking from your chosen analytics platform)?
It is not enough for us to simply track page views, event count and acquisition etc.; we need to know where and how users and encountering errors on our websites so we can take any necessary action to optimise or improve their journey.
Tracking 404 Error Pages
Although this may seem obvious, tracking your 404 error pages is a really effective way to spot what errors your users are accessing so you can fix them as soon as possible.
If your Analytics is installed at the global level, this tracking shouldn’t be an issue, but you may be surprised how often we see these error pages not being tracked.
What About Other Errors?
It’s not just 404 errors that need to be tracked, either. When we talk about tracking your error pages, we’re talking about every response code, including 410, 500 and 503s.
If Google encounters these other status codes, it will ignore the content and the URL, so you need to know which URLs are returning a 410 or 500 etc., so you can find and fix them.
Whatever analytics platform you are using, ensure it is set up at the global level to track every page and every response code on your domain.
Common Mistakes to Avoid with 404s
While we’re on the subject, let’s highlight some mistakes to avoid while handling 404s. We frequently encounter these in our SEO audits, so we recommend you follow these to avoid making the same mistakes.
Please know that 404s are a natural aspect of internal behaviour, and they are expected. Removing or avoiding 404s altogether can open your website up to a whole host of additional issues.
Ensure your URLs can return a 404 error code to clearly indicate that the user or search engine has reached a non-existent page. As annoying as a 404 error can be, they provide a much clearer UX than any of the above options.
There are many ways to optimise your error page to encourage users to continue their journey, but we can discuss them another time.
Effective Strategies for Dealing with 404 Errors
Once you’re confident that all of your errors are being tracked accurately, you can then ensure your 404 errors are being handled correctly.
Some of the strategies we recommend for doing this are: