How to create and edit custom 404 page on Squarespace

404 page errors are automatically displayed on Squarespace sites when the server is not able to locate a page. Usually it’s due to a broken link or an incorrect Squarespace URL. You can use your website’s 404 page in many ways, and retaining the unique style of your site is one of them. Now let’s dive deeper into the 404 page structure and learn how to create and customize yours so that users could understand that there’s something wrong.

Viewing your website’s 404 page

Viewing your 404 page differs for each Squarespace website version. For example, for 7.1 version websites the guide will look like:
  1. In the Home menu, click Design.
  2. Find the 404 page section and click it.
Version 7.0 website owners should follow these steps on how to view 404 error:
  1. Go to the Home menu, then click Design.
  2. Click Not Found / 404 page.
Remember that your 404 Squarespace page is automatically set to System Default, where users will find info on why the content is not appearing. Your Squarespace 404 page also includes links to your homepage and search page to help your audience navigate through the content. By default, the following text is displayed there:
We couldn't find the page you were looking for. This is either because:
  • There is an error in the URL entered into your web browser. Please check the URL and try again.
  • The page you are looking for has been moved or deleted.
You can return to our homepage by clicking here, or you can try searching for the content you are seeking by clicking here.
Also, there are other ways to detect 404 page on your Squarespace website. For example, you can use Google Search Console. Let’s see how you can do it and create some meaningful reports.

How to find 404 page using Google Search console

Spotting a 404 page through the Search Console is one of the easiest ways to detect and fix it. Your list of Squarespace 404 page errors can be found after you log in to your account and click on Crawl errors under diagnostics. After that, click Not found to create a list of all links that result in 404 error.  By clicking on any URL, you’ll see all the pages where a broken link is linked. Edit those links manually and then make Google re-crawl your Squarespace website in order those 404 page not found mistakes to be removed from the list.  In the event of detecting any broken links from an external domain that are broken due to some changes on your side or maybe misspelling, you may want to notify the Squarespace website owner to fix the link or set up 301 redirection to make that link redirect to organic link. Depending on how large your website is, to create redirects from a 404 page may take quite a while. But it’s an extremely healthy strategy in the long-term as it’s as you’ll see how highly appreciated it is by your audience and - more importantly - by search engines. 

Some other tools to help you find 404 page on your Squarespace website

There’s a bunch of other tools that may help you with finding the 404 page on your site in case you don’t want to use Google Search Console. They create a really impressive list of options for you to choose from. Here are some of them - let’s find out how they work. SEMRush
SEMRush homepage
SEMRush is quite a popular service offering you tons of instruments. Its Site Audit option is there to crawl your website automatically and create a report on all the possible issues, 404 page included. Screaming Frog
Screaming Frog homepage
It’s one more popular tool for finding and spotting SEO problems on websites. Screaming Frog is really easy to use and you’ll spot all 404 page errors without any problems. 

How to find out if 404 page affect your website’s SEO

The industry’s experts are still not sure about the effect 404 pages create for SEO of your Squarespace website. There have been some talks concerning a large amount of these pages and how badly they might hurt your website’s rankings and even lead to a penalty. The most important thing here is that all those talks are proven not to be true. Your website won’t get a penalty for having 404 page. The only way some problems may occur - when an important homepage was deleted accidentally or removed somewhere without redirection. So it’s better for your Squarespace website not to face these problems.  According to Google, your website’s 404 page should follow these recommendations:
  1. There should be no traffic coming to this page.
  2. Make sure there are no important links to those page.
But there might also be some 404 page on your Squarespace website that does not fit the conditions given above. Let’s see how you can fix them.

How to fix 404 page error

So, if you’ve spotted some 404 page errors that create problems for your Squarespace website, you should definitely consider removing them from your website and below you’ll find some common guidelines on how you can do it. Retry page by pressing F5 The first and the most obvious way to fix your Squarespace 404 page - refresh it. Click or tap the refresh button or try the URL in the address bar again - several times if needed. Sometimes, these measures are enough as 404 page may appear for several reasons even if there is no real issue at all. So the simple refresh will load the missing page.  Check the Squarespace URL errors Another common reason for a Squarespace 404 page appearance is because the URL was typed wrong, or the link leads to the wrong URL. Removing these issues will fix the problem. Move up one directory level For instance, if an URL www.web.com/a/b/c.htm shows you 404 page not found errors, then move up to www.web.com/a/b/. And if you find nothing there or an error occurs, then it’ll be reasonable enough to move up to www.web.com/a/. This will guide you directly to the solution you’ve been looking for or simply confirm that your Squarespace URL is really no longer available.
Tip: If you’ve passed all the way up to your website’s homepage, you can try to look for the info you need. If the search function is absent on your website, then navigate to the page you need applying category links to dive deeper into the Squarespace website’s content.
Search your Squarespace homepage using popular search engine Sometimes, there might be a situation where you simply have an entirely wrong URL for the Squarespace website. In this case open Google or Bing search to find out where you want to go. As soon as you find the page you’re after, update your bookmark or favorite to avoid 404 page errors in the future. Clear the browser’s cache Do it in case you have any indications that the 404 page error might be just yours, not the website’s problem. You can check this by reaching the email from your smartphone - if it can be reached from there but not from your tablet, clearing the cache on your tablet might help. Change the DNS servers used by your computer Do this if your entire website gives you a 404 page error, and especially if it’s available to those on other networks - your mobile phone network, or even a friend in another city.  Usually, 404 error for the entire website is not a common thing unless it’s not under some government filters or censor websites. But in spite of all these reasons, if such a thing happens, you can try to give another set of DNS servers. This must be a solution to your problem. Try contacting the Squarespace website directly You can address the website directly and if they’ve removed the page you’re looking for, then the 404 page is quite legitimate and the website owners will notify you on that. But if they’ve moved the page somewhere else and demonstrate 404 page errors to you instead of redirecting you to the new page, then it’s a good thing to remind them to set up a redirect.
Tip: If you’re thinking that everyone’s getting 404 page error for this site, but there’s no certainty, it must be a good idea to check the company’s Twitter to clear up the situation. Simply go by hashtags like #websitedown. Twitter users are usually the first ones to react to some issues occuring on the web.
Simply wait If you’ve already gone through all the possible ways to fix this problem, it might be a good decision to wait. It’s not actually what you might have expected to hear, but it may be the only course of action, especially if you’re certain that the 404 page shouldn’t appear. Make sure it’s not a mistake similar to 404 Sometimes you might face some other error messages related to 404 page error. The list includes:
  • 400 Bad Request
  • 401 Unauthorized
  • 403 Forbidden
  • 408 Request Timeout
To get more info on HTTP Status Codes, find the list of them on the web. Sometimes, your users may come across a Soft 404 page error. Let’s look into it.

What is a soft 404 error

In most cases, a page with a soft 404 error is a page that should not exist, but is still there according to the CMS. it may seem confusing for you as a reader, but for search engines it may be much more confusing as well. A soft 404 page error is a label used by search engines to help them define and make sense of them and not to ignore them at all while crawling your website. These errors can also be detected by tools like Google Search Console and others. Your job here is to fix them as soon as possible so that your Squarespace site work fine. Regular 404 page return a 200 OK status, soft 404 page still exist and end up in the SERP if they’re crawled and indexed. And if you think this case is rare, you’re a little bit wrong. It happens quite often, especially on WordPress websites and other popular CMS, Squarespace included. It’s all because there are tons of automatically generated pages on those CMS.

Soft 404 page and their relationship with SEO

If you say short - yes, a soft 404 page can harm your website’s rankings as search engines do not like dead links. They demonstrate a lack of maintenance on your Squarespace resource and are really confusing for search engines as they see a very different result from what is expected. So, if you’ve spotted such pages with some tools, it’s better for you to get rid of them as soon as possible. It’s really bad practice to have thin page to be crawled by bots - it can affect your overall crawl efficiency.

How to fix soft 404 page

In most cases, fixing a soft 404 page depends on what you want that page to do. But first of all, make sure the page with errors sends the correct status code. Also, beyond the tips that were given above, you can do the following:
  • If you’re sure that the page does not exist anymore, provide it with 404 or 410 status.
  • If the page moved to some new location, give it 301.
  • If you still need this page, but don’t want it to be indexed by Google, noindex it.
And always try to prevent such errors on your Squarespace site instead of fixing them afterwards. 

How to create your custom 404 page

Now that you know what a 404 page is and how it may or may not affect your website’s rankings, it’s time for you to customize your Squarespace 404 page. As we’ve already mentioned above, a customized 404 page can become a really helpful tool in your website’s navigation. Follow these steps to personalize your 404 page:
  1. Create a new Squarespace page, and then place it in the Not Linked section of your Pages panel.
  2. Observe your existing Squarespace 404 page and then use the drop-down to select the customized page.
In this video you’ll find a through guide on how you can add page to your navigation:
As soon as you open your default 404 page to edit it, make sure it contains an error message that is easy to detect so that your audience will be alerted that the page they’ve been searching for is not available at the moment. It’s really important for your Squarespace website not to get penalized. Don’t forget about adding links to your homepage or search page and any other section of your Squarespace website you find necessary.