A 404 error means that the web page you are trying to load cannot be found. 404’s can annoy website visitors and lead to crawl errors push your website ranking downwards.
In terms of visibility of a live website there’s only one thing worse than 404 errors. And that is if the entire website that is invisible to search engines.
In the WordPress dashboard in the Settings area, there is an option about Search Engine Visibility. If checked, it will discourage search engines from indexing the website. This means that the website won’t appear in search results at all. Note that the site is still live and will be visible if the url is entered exactly into the address bar in a browser.
So why would you want to stop search engines from indexing your site? There are some cases where people want to discourage search engines from indexing their sites:
- Unfinished websites — at this stage of errors and trials, it’s best not to have your website available to the public eyes
- Restricted websites — if you plan to have an invite-only website, you do not want it to get listed on search results
- Test accounts — web owners create a site duplicate for testing and trial purposes and are not designed for the public.
Unfortunately kurl web has come across websites that were invisible to search engines without the owners knowledge because the itty bitty checkbox was ticked. Oops!