Are Redirects Necessary if You Create A 404 Page

My question is are redirects necessary if you create a 404 page within your webflow website, will the 404 page ‘catch’ all old/bad URLs that might be found on search.

Our site old site is about 60 pages, our new site is about 20 pages (- we’ve trimmed unnecessary poor performing pages and focused our messages on a smaller subset of pages. We plan to continue to build out new pages over time.)

We have had a LOT of redirects but noted that after we launched our site the 404 page we created was nicely redirecting pages to a designated page on our new site.

My assumption is a 404 is less specific - it will collect ALL bad/old link clicks and direct them to one page.

My understanding is redirects are more specific, that is they take a user from a bad link to a specific page you wish them to go to.

Because our site has shrunk so much we don’t really have a new page for every old page. As long as our old/bad links are being sent to our custom 404 I think we are good.

If, for some reason a 404 page is not capturing all our bad links then maybe we would consider getting busy applying redirects.

I’m just not 100% certain but I think I am on the right track.

Thank you for your assist.

Here is my site Read-Only: LINK
(how to share your site Read-Only link)

Hi Tommy,

404 pages are not redirects. By definition, they return a 404 status code rather than a redirect 301 or 302. It’s possible to sort of make it do both, using META redirects or JS but that would just confuse searchbots and create a weird UX.

Use your 404 for pages that don’t exist. If someone edits the URL and types something weird, that’s what you want them to get.

Use your redirect when that path should go somewhere new.

In a site migration, you’ll generally create redirects from any old URLs you want to keep, to the new ones you want them to redirect to.

Note that there is now a bit of a new problem which is that AI LLMs like ChatGPT can hallucinate URLs that look legit but aren’t real. If you have a large client site that gets traffic from LLM-generated links - even an internal chatbot, you can mitigate that by enabling Webflow’s site search and then add a searchbox to the page which you auto-populate from the url path.

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Hi @memetican - thank you so much for your kind reply. I will get our redirects in place in this case.

Not sure I totally follow the last piece about site search but understand the premise. Does this mean I am adding a site search to my entire site or are these just standalone pages (not linked by nav) which have page redirect URLs populated in search box?

Thanks again.

Site search is a site-wide feature, but it’s up to you if you use it in your site. You’d typically put search boxes in your header or footer if you wanted that.

Here the search box is only on the 404 page.

Site search takes a text string, and then finds pages that contain that content in their title or text, so you are not searching URLs, you’re searching keywords.

It’s a useful tool in the get-visitors-to-their-destination problem, however your redirects are the main tool there.

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Thanks for explaining @memetican very helpful :raised_hands: