The web is ever changing: content is moved or is deleted altogether, websites come and go, old sites get new domains. The web works because of links, but links do not reflect the changing nature of the web. A link from one site to another will break if the resource to which it points is moved to a different URL or is removed from the web altogether — from a link’s perspective, there’s no difference between the two or other cases like a URL being misspelled. When that happens, people who click on the link will be shown a 404 error, which means “resource not found” (assuming the site still exists at all). Most users, when faced with a 404 error, will simply bounce away from the site in question. Given the nature of the web, a certain percentage of the links leading to a site will be broken; a non-trivial percentage of users who visit a site will be given a 404 error and go elsewhere. Getting traffic to a website is hard, and once we get people to our sites, whether they find what they’re looking for immediately or not, we want them to stay. Luckily, it’s possible to modify 404 pages so that they offer users an opportunity to continue their journey on a site. Handling 404s Badly I’m sure
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