Website Error Messages: What’s Normal and What’s Not
Some things can chill you to the bone: an unexpected phone call late at night; the phrase, “We need to talk”; and notification of—gasp!—website errors. While we at Rosemont Media cannot help you much in the other two arenas, when it comes to website performance and site errors, we have you covered.
Now, there are a lot of different kinds of website errors; hundreds, even, but you’re more likely to come across a handful of common ones, which we will discuss here. Connection errors, WordPress errors, and Crawl errors tend to be the categories most people bump up against. Some require a simple fix (or just a little patience) while others are a wee bit more complicated. We will provide a quick overview of what each type of error is, whether it’s something to be concerned about, and what you can do to address it. As always, if you have any questions, we welcome you to give us a call for more personalized information.
404 Not Found
Browser errors, or connection errors, are usually pretty minor. A 404 – Page Not Found error indicates the page you are trying to access does not exist. This can happen when you mistype the URL or when a page has been moved or removed.
Untrustworthy Security Certificate
Certificate errors—The site’s security certificate is not trusted—pop up when the security of a site is either unknown or known to be unsafe. In some cases, this can mean the certificate was not properly configured or the site is illegitimate (and usually pretending to be something it’s not, like your online bank). Regardless, you should click away from that URL.
Phishing and Malware
One of the benefits of using a well-known browser (Chrome, Firefox, or Safari, for instance) is that they regularly download a list of suspect and dangerous websites. If you were to land on one of these sites, you might end up with malware—software designed to damage or disable your computer system—or the site may be phishing for personal information to engage in identity theft. If you see Reported Web Forgery! pop up on your screen, run the other direction (metaphorically speaking).
Our medical and dental clients typically use WordPress as their CMS (content management system). A CMS is used to publish web pages, blog posts, and other material that visitors see when they browse a website. WordPress errors can run the gamut from minor to major, and usually your website management is handled by an administrator (for our clients, that would be us). Some practices like to be very involved in publishing content and some are more hands-off. Either way, if you detect an error, whether it’s a 500 Internal Server Error, refreshing and redirecting, or another issue, give us a holler and we can sort it out.
Google uses web spiders, or bots, to “crawl” web pages and keep their data up-to-date. When you receive a report that mentions crawl errors, they usually fall into one of two categories: site errors and URL errors. You can review these errors from the Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools).
Site-level errors are problems affecting the entire website, and they can have catastrophic effects. Ideally, you will see a message in Search Console stating that you’ve had no errors in the last 90 days. However, you could potentially see DNS (domain name system), Server, or Robots Failure errors. DNS errors can indicate poor user experience or inability to connect to the site entirely. Server errors suggest that your website is taking too long to load a page. A Robots Failure means that the spiders cannot access the list of pages you don’t want indexed. The last issue, Robots Failure, is the least pressing. The other two, however, are quite serious and require immediate correction.
URL errors are limited to a single page, so they are often far less worrisome and urgent than site errors, but they can still cause problems. Sometimes you will see a bunch of URL errors—but that doesn’t mean you should lose your cool. The most important errors are listed first, and some may have already been addressed (it can take a few days for Search Console to update the info). Some of the most common errors include: Soft 404s, 404 Error, Access Denied, and Not Followed. Fixing these can get pretty technical and requires significant experience to recognize when something can be left as-is or demands changes, so we recommend you rely on your website administrator to handle these errors whenever possible.
Other Errors, or: How Unethical Marketing Companies Target Practices
Have you ever received an email, usually written with less than exemplary English, that attempted to “warn” you about errors or other concerns affecting your website that they can help you with? Some questionable marketing companies employ sleazy sales tactics that involve scaring a potential client into doing business with them. No reputable business will use incomprehensible jargon to terrify someone into using a service. Reliable agencies will help you understand any issues you are having without belittling you, frightening you, or threatening you. Whether it has to do with search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), site errors, or competition, the right dental or medical marketing firm will be a partner in your web development strategy.
Website errors come in many flavors, and they can cause a lot of distress, but with the helping hand of a knowledgeable marketing company and website administrator, you can sleep soundly at night knowing your practice site is well protected. If you have any questions, whether it be about site errors, a suspicious email, or just general information, contact our friendly team of experts to find out more.