7 Best 404 Redirect Plugins for WordPress
Nobody likes an error message, and a 404 error message (Page Not Found) is so omnipresent it’s a virtual meme. Typically, this message means that the target server is communicating, but the page the user is trying to reach does not exist. This problem may occur, as many a WordPress user knows, even if the page or post one is trying to reach does exist. Fortunately, this is easily resolved with a 404 redirect WordPress plugin. But before we get into our list of plugins, let us first discuss 404 errors and some possible solutions.
What is a 404 Error?
If you get a 404 error, this means that your browser can communicate with a server, but cannot find the requested content. This typically happens with broken (dead) links: the content was once there, but was either completely removed or relocated. This error may also result from a typo or similar human error, a corrupt theme file, or a faulty plugin. This is so common, we even have a full tutorial on how to fix 404 errors in WordPress.
On the UX side of things, a broken link leading to a generic error page may drive a visitor away from the content they wanted – your content – which could still be there for them. A well-designed 404 error page can be used to your advantage, just so long as they are visually engaging and that they provide an avenue towards the main body of your website, and possibly the very content your stray visitor was really after. We have compiled a list of websites with great 404 page designs, to give you an idea of what you can do with a custom 404 error page, design-wise.
The gist of it is that, instead of driving away visitors, you can use 404 errors to your advantage. We will show you how to use a WordPress plugin to redirect errant visitors to content which might interest them. So, without further ado, we give you our choice of best 404 redirect plugins for WordPress.
404page is a free plugin that you can use to redirect to a custom page all traffic which would result in a 404 error. Simply install it and select a page you created as your default 404 error page. What makes this plugin both SEO- and user-friendly is the fact that it does not actually redirect anyone, but simply leads the users to a dedicated page, avoiding multiple server requests. This plugin also automatically tells search engines that a link is broken, resulting in the link being de-indexed and, consequently, better SEO scores for your website.
A free and smart plugin, WP 404 Auto Redirect to Similar Post allows you to automatically redirect your visitors to content similar to what they were attempting to access based on several factors: title, post type, and taxonomy. In case you don’t have any similar content, the plugin provides you with a fallback setting: you can redirect your visitors to your homepage, another page, or a 404 page, while also excluding post types, posts, terms and taxonomies form redirection, greatly improving user experience. On the admin side, this plugin also supports debug consoles instead of redirection for admins, while simultaneously logging all redirections in a dedicated file.
Easily the most popular plugin of the lot, with over a million active installations, Redirect is a free plugin designed to allow you to manage 301 and 404 redirects with ease. 301 redirects are useful for redirection in those cases where content had been permanently moved to another location. If you want to learn more, we have a whole article about 301 redirects and how to create them.
The functionality we are interested in here is the ability to translate URL patterns to different locations – very useful if you have migrated your whole website. It also supports conditional redirects, working only if the user is logged in, using a certain browser, accessing the website from a certain IP address, and more.
A free and simple plugin, All 404 Redirect to Homepage can be used to automatically redirect all 404 visitors not only to your homepage, but to any page you like. Simply install the plugin, give it a redirect link (making sure it’s valid to avoid a redirect loop), enable the plugin, and you’re sorted. Your visitors will be redirected to your homepage or any other page you choose. And not only that, this plugin will log all 404 links (from each visit) which will allow you to see which of your broken links cause the most problems for your visitors.
404 to 301 handles your 404 errors with ease. It allows you to effectively change the user experience of those who would otherwise get a 404 error. You can redirect them to an existing page, such as a custom 404 page, a custom URL, which is not otherwise used, or simply disable the redirect altogether. You also get e-mail reports of 404 errors, allowing you to fix them easily.
As the name suggests, SEO Redirection Plugin 301 Redirect Manager wasn’t primarily made for 404 redirects, but it does have the requisite functionality. 301 redirects are used to permanently fix a broken link by redirecting users to the new location of the content they searched for, which is useful in its own right. However, you can use this simple and free plugin to track 404 errors and manage redirection where those errors appear. You can also log these errors, which are kept in a special table for you to review and fix manually as needed. In other words, it works for all redirects, not just URLs which don’t exist.
Though a very useful free plugin, Redirect URL to Post will not solve your 404 problems. It will, however, supply you with an addition to a dedicated 404 page which your visitors may appreciate. You can use it to generate redirect links to first, last, or random posts, or random within a range. It also comes with a shortcode for a button (or several buttons) which you can fit onto your custom 404 page and let your visitors choose where they would like to be redirected.
So there you have it: our curated selection of WordPress plugins you can use to redirect your website visitors to the content they actually want to see and avoid 404 errors. The choice of the plugin is, of course, up to you, and, with this list at least, budget is not a concern. What you might want to bear in mind, though, are the additional features of each of these plugins. If SEO is your main concern, 404page is probably a good pick for you. If you are running a simple website without a great deal of content and don’t want to bother with a lot of configuration options, All 404 Redirect to Homepage could be just the ticket. If you are looking for a smart solution, trying to give your users what you think they wanted, WP 404 Auto Redirect to Similar Post or 404 to 301 are probably good options. If you think your 404 errors are mostly due to migration to another server, Redirection is likely what you want. Finally, if you are looking to offer a better look at your content – and possibly a nice surprise – to your stray visitors, you may want to use Redirect URL to Post and customize it to fit your needs. In each case, our first suggestion will always be to take a good look at the features list for each plugin before committing.