‘Page Not Found’ is one of the most frustrating messages your site’s visitors can see. The so-called Error 404 indicates that a page a visitor is trying to access is unavailable, which is why you must approach deleting or updating content on your website with the utmost care.
Identifying the issues that might cause the ‘Page Not Found’ can be a pedestrian task. We’ll show you some of the most efficient ways to deal with this problem to help ensure your site is running smoothly.
Checking Permalink Settings in WordPress
You can use Gutenberg to adjust the permalinks of individual pages. Here’s how:
- Step 1 – Go to your site’s dashboard and open the Pages menu
- Step 2 – Click the three-dot icon next to a page and choose the Edit option
- Step 3 – Click on the Settings icon in the upper left corner of the screen once the page you want to edit loads in the Gutenberg editor.
- Step 4 – Make sure the Page tab is active, then scroll down to the URL section and click on it.
- Step 5- Insert the last part of the URL into the Permalink box to change the page’s current URL. This is also known as the slug.
This method only enables you to change a page’s URL and cannot help you troubleshoot a permalink.
Preparing to Troubleshoot Incorrect Permalinks
Permalink issues occur for various reasons. Installing a plugin, upgrading WordPress or the theme you’re using, and migrating your site to a new domain can be why Error 404 keeps popping up when you try to access a particular page.
Although somewhat tedious, fixing these problems isn’t overly complicated. Still, a single mistake can undo a lot of hard work and render your website useless.
That’s why you should create a website backup you can revert to if anything goes wrong before you start exploring different ways to troubleshoot incorrect permalinks.
Please keep in mind that permalink issues can occur if you attempt to restore a website backup, so don’t forget to check for Error 404 messages after you restore a backup.
Fixing Incorrect Permalinks Issues
The solution to the problems with permalinks you’re experiencing will depend on the WordPress version you’re using. As we already noted, WordPress.com sites don’t offer default options that allow admins to change the permalink structure.
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Most permalink troubleshooting options we’ll describe here are aimed at WordPress.org sites that utilize third-party hosting. With that said, let’s dig deeper.
Adjusting the Permalinks Settings
Resetting your website’s permalink settings is the first thing you should try if you’re dealing with ‘Page Not Found’ issues. Here’s what you need to do.
- Step 1 – Open the site’s dashboard and navigate to the Settings menu
- Step 2 – Locate the Permalinks option in the Settings menu and click on it
- Step 3 – You’ll see a warning at the top of the Permalink Settings window informing you that you shouldn’t adjust permalink settings on a live website because it might impact your site’s search engine visibility.
- Step 4 – Common Settings section lets you choose from Plain, Day and name, Month and name, Numeric, and Post name permalink structure options. Choose the option that best fits your needs and click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.
Completing these steps will reset your site’s permalink structure and might resolve the Error 404 issues. However, this solution doesn’t always work, so you’ll have to continue exploring other options if you keep seeing a ‘Page Not Found’ message after you adjust permalink settings.
Please clear the web browser’s cache before checking if adjusting permalink settings has resolved the Error 404 problem because web browsers sometimes load older website versions.
Hence, you might still see the ‘Page Not Found’ message even though the permalink issue is fixed.
Moreover, the permalink settings feature is only available on WordPress.org sites, and you won’t have the option to choose a permalink structure if you’re using WordPress.com.
Creating a New .htaccess File
Editing this file can cause permalink issues. Moreover, some plugins can alter this file without your permission, often causing Error 404.
Reconfiguring this core file can fix the permalink problem, so let’s see how you can do that.
- Step 2 – Click the File Manager icon if you’re using cPanel, and head to the public_html folder.
- Step 3 – The list of files in the public_html folder will be displayed on the right side of the screen. Scroll through it until you find the .htaccess file.
- Step 4 – Right-click on the file and choose the Rename option from the menu. Insert the new file name that indicates that the file contains an error and click the Rename button.
- Step 5 – Click on the New File icon in File Manager. Name the file .htaccess and proceed to paste the code below into the file:
- Step 6 – Review the code with the htaccess tester or a similar tool before saving and closing the file you created.
Go to your website and check if creating a new .htaccess file has resolved your permalink issue.
Disabling a Plugin
Plugins are often the reason websites encounter permalink problems. Consequently, disabling all plugins you’re using will allow you to check if Error 404 is caused by a plugin.
Here’s how to disable all plugins on your website:
- Expand the Plugins menu on your site’s admin panel and choose the Installed Plugins option.
- Select all plugins and choose the Deactivate option from the Bulk Action drop-down menu. Click the Apply button next to the Bulk Action menu.
Once all plugins on your website are disabled, you can check if the pages that displayed the ‘Page Not Found’ message are working correctly. You’ll have to determine which plugin is causing the problem if disabling all plugins has fixed the problem.
Completing this process manually can be time-consuming if you’re using a lot of plugins because you’ll have to click the Deactivate button next to each plugin and then check if the page in question loads normally.
Make sure to delete the plugin causing the Error 404 issue after you find it to avoid further problems. You can search for an alternative if the plugin you have to delete is vital for your site’s daily operations.
The Best Plugins For Troubleshooting Permalinks in WordPress
Hiring a WordPress developer to troubleshoot permalinks on your site can be expensive. Installing a plugin that will automatically ensure all URLs on your website are healthy is a more affordable solution.
Here are some of the best plugins you can use to troubleshoot permalinks in WordPress.
The plugin automatically detects permalinks WordPress cannot find and attempts to locate posts with similar words in the site’s database before generating the Error 404 message.
Link Fixer redirects visitors to a new page that best matches its search criteria and eliminates the ‘Page Not Found’ issues.
Health Check and Troubleshooting
Although troubleshooting permalinks isn’t its primary purpose, the Health Check and Troubleshooting plugin can help detect plugins causing Error 404.
It disables all website’s plugins and allows the admin to run a clean WordPress session to determine if one or more plugins are responsible for permalink issues.
The plugin can also help you check if any of the WordPress core files, including the .htaccess file, were edited, which caused them to create a permalink problem.
Permalink Manager Lite
Prevention is often the best cure. A plugin like Permalink Manager Lite redirects old URLs, automatically eliminating the chances of Error 404 appearing on any of your website’s pages.
It also offers the bulk editing option so that you can easily change the site’s permalink structure or modify URLs. This plugin lets you adjust the permalink for each post or page manually.
Solving Permalink Problems in WordPress
Fixing broken links might be a tedious task, but finding an incorrect permalink in WordPress isn’t difficult.
These issues are usually caused by moving a page to a new location or deleting pages, although in some cases, incompatible plugins or modified .htaccess files can be at the root of the problem.
We suggest checking your site’s permalink settings before trying other permalink troubleshooting methods.