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White House.gov 404 error 1-20-09

It can be frustrating when you’re trying to browse a website and get a message like, “404 Error: Page Not Found,” or “Oops, looks like something went wrong. 500 Error.” Once people come across a message like this, they usually give up and leave the site. What’s more frustrating is when these errors occur on your own site. Where did they come from and how can we fix it?

What Are 404 Errors?

404 Errors pop up in a few circumstances, either due to user error or webmaster error. A user that types in an incorrect URL will result in a 404 Error. Make sure that the URL is typed in correctly and everything is spelled right. If everything is indeed spelled right with proper hyphens, underscores, and capitalization, it may be a webmaster error then.

The URL may have been edited incorrectly or changed by the webmaster. If this is not the case, 404 Errors also happen because a website moved to a different content management system and/or a page was deleted but not redirected.

Fixing a 404 Error

If the error isn’t user error, 404’s are corrected by the webmaster. As mentioned before, the syntax of the URL should be double checked and corrected if this is the cause of the error. Otherwise, create a 301 redirect, which tells the server to automatically go from page A (no longer exists) to page B (an existing page).

What are 500 Errors?

500 Errors are due to the server failing to return a valid request. There is not an exact reason this happens, rather, 500 Errors occur because of a typo in the coding of the website. These typos can be missing brackets or semi-colons. There could be an extra space added to the code, malformed code, or is coded in the wrong order.

Fixing a 500 Error

The developers need to double check their coding or identify the error through the error log in order to correct this. Once they debug the code, the 500 error will no longer show up and the page will successfully load.


The best way to make sure these errors aren’t showing up on your site is to regularly check your Google Webmasters account and check for crawl errors. Once you have this list, you’ll be able to go through and apply the proper fixes to the errors.

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