Tracking 404 Error in Google Analytics 4

Maintaining a seamless user experience on your website is crucial. However, encountering a 404 error can disrupt this experience and drive users away. To ensure your website runs smoothly, tracking and addressing these errors promptly is vital. This article will guide you through tracking 404 errors in Google Analytics 4, which will help you identify and fix these issues to improve your website’s SEO performance. Let’s explore how to track 404 errors in Google Analytics 4 effectively.

What’s a 404 Error?

A 404 error occurs when a user tries to access a web page that is not available on the server. It is commonly displayed as a “Page Not Found” error. The error is often caused by an incorrect URL, a deleted or moved page, or a broken link within the website. When a user encounters a 404 error, they cannot access the desired web page, which can be frustrating and may cause them to leave the site.

To ensure a smooth and user-friendly browsing experience for visitors, website owners must promptly monitor and address 404 errors. This will prevent users from encountering dead ends and improve the website’s usability and functionality. Resolving 404 errors can also positively impact search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, as broken links and error pages can negatively affect a website’s search engine rankings.

Website owners should regularly monitor and fix 404 errors to provide a seamless browsing experience for their visitors and maintain a solid online presence. By doing so, they can prevent users from leaving the website and ensure they can easily find the information they need.

Why are the 404 Errors terrible for your business?

Encountering a 404 error on your website can negatively affect your business. For instance, it can create a poor user experience for visitors, leading to frustration and a perception of unprofessionalism, which may cause them to leave your site and seek out your competitors. Additionally, it can result in missed opportunities for engagement, conversions, and sales, as visitors cannot access the content they seek.

Furthermore, having multiple 404 errors on your site can have a negative impact on your search engine rankings. Search engines prioritize user experience and website usability when determining search rankings, and a poorly maintained or user-unfriendly site can cause you to drop rankings. Broken links often cause 404 errors, and they can harm your site’s credibility and authority, indicating outdated or unreliable content.

A 404 error during a conversion process, such as when a visitor encounters an error when accessing a product page, contact form, or checkout page, can lead to missed conversion opportunities. Users who encounter errors during the conversion process are less likely to complete their purchase or take the desired action, leading to decreased revenue and conversions for your business.

In conclusion, 404 errors can significantly impact your business by negatively affecting user experience, search engine rankings, credibility, and conversion rates. It’s crucial to promptly address and monitor 404 errors to ensure a seamless browsing experience for visitors and maintain a positive online presence for your business.

How to track 404 Errors in Google Analytics 4

To track 404 errors in Google Analytics 4, there are two methods you can use: using Google Analytics 4 engagement reports or using Google Tag Manager to send custom events in GA4.

To use the first method, make sure that your 404 error page has a distinct page title. You can check this by going to a page that you know does not exist on your website and checking the page title. It is usually “Page Not Found” or “Page Unavailable” or something similar. If the page title is not distinct, then you should use the second method to track 404 errors.

Using Google Analytics 4 engagement reports

To use GA4 engagement report to track 404 error, please follow the steps below:

  1. Navigate to Engagement Reports in the Report Section of GA4 

    In your Google Analytics 4 account, go to the “Engagement” reports in the reports section. From there, navigate to the “Pages and Screen” report which displays the performance of your pages.GA4 Pages and Screen Report

  2. Locate and filter the data related to error pages in the table report

    Type the title of the 404 error page (page not found) in the search bar of the table report. This will filter and show only the data for error pages. Make sure that the page title is the primary dimension selected.
    In the example below, the page title for the 404 error page is “Page Unavailable” as seen in the image.404 Error Page Filtered Report in GA4

  3. Add the “Page path and screen class” dimension as a secondary dimension.

    This will enable you to see the page URLs with errors. By identifying the pages with high error rates, you can investigate the reasons behind the 404 errors and fix them.404 Error Page Path Report in GA4

Use this information to optimize your website and fix broken links or missing pages to improve user experience.

You can also use Path Exploration in GA4 Explore to identify 404 error pages. To begin, open a new report by navigating to Explore -> Path Exploration. Within Path Exploration, locate the “Start again” button and click on it. Next, select “Ending Point” as the Page Title “Page Unavailable” to identify where users clicked on broken links. For more detailed guidance on creating path explorations, please refer to our article on path exploration for more detailed guidance.

404 Error Path Exploration Report
404 Error Path Exploration Report

Using Google Tag Manager to send the custom event in GA4

This method will require the help of a developer to send the event to the Data Layer and it also means to use this step you would have already installed GA4 Set up via Google Tag Manager on your website. You can set this method up by following the steps below:

1. Ask your developer to send this code to the Data layer. This means each time a user gets a 404 error that event will be pushed to the Data Layer.

window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || [];
window.dataLayer.push({
  'event' : 'Page Unavailable'
});

2. Configure the tag to trigger when a user lands on a 404 error page by setting up a custom event trigger type.

Custom Trigger for 404 Error Event
Custom Trigger for 404 Error Event

3. Create a new custom event tag in Google Tag Manager specifically for tracking 404 errors.

GTM Custom Event Tag for 404 Error
GTM Custom Event Tag for 404 Error

You can now test the tag to ensure it is firing correctly when users encounter a 404 error. Once the tag is working as intended, publish the changes in Google Tag Manager to start tracking 404 errors as custom events in Google Analytics 4. With this custom event, you can track the frequency and impact of 404 errors on your website’s performance.

Methods to fix 404 errors

There are several methods to Fix 404 Errors; let’s look at a few of them below:

  • Custom 404 Page: Create a custom 404 error page that provides helpful information to users, such as a search bar, navigation links, or a contact form. A well-designed custom 404 page can guide users to valuable site content and reduce bounce rates.
  • Redirects: Implement 301 redirects to direct users from the broken URL to a relevant, functioning page on your website. This ensures a seamless user experience and prevents visitors from encountering the 404 error page.
  • Update Links: Regularly check and update internal and external links on your website to ensure they point to the correct URLs. Fix any broken links to prevent 404 errors caused by outdated or incorrect URLs. Stay vigilant about website changes, such as page deletions, URL restructuring, or content updates.
  • Google Search Console: Use Google Search Console to identify and resolve crawl errors, including 404 errors, on your website. It provides insights into URLs returning 404 errors and allows you to request the removal of irrelevant pages from search results.
  • Track and Monitor: Track 404 errors using Google Analytics 4 and promptly address any 404 errors to maintain a positive user experience and improve

By utilizing these methods, you can effectively track 404 errors in Google Analytics 4 and gain valuable insights to improve your website’s user experience and overall performance.

Bonus: How to Set Up Email Alerts for 404 Error Increase in GA4

To receive email alerts whenever there is an increase in 404 errors on your GA4 property, you can set up custom insights. Follow these steps to set up email alerts using custom insights for 404 error increases:

First, create a custom audience. To create a custom audience, go to the Audience section under the Data Display in your admin page and click on “New”. However, you only need to create an audience if you used the first method, which involves tracking 404 errors using the engagement report. If you used the GTM setup (second method), there is no need to create an audience. Instead, you can use the event_name directly.

Add a condition that specifies the page title as “Page Unavailable,” which is the title of the error page. If you are unsure how to create an audience please refer to our dedicated article on this topic.

Custom Audience for 404 Error
Custom Audience for 404 Error

In your Google Analytics 4 Home page, scroll to the “Insights & Recommendations” section and click “View all insights”.

GA4 Home Page
Clicking on View all insights on GA4 Home Page

Click on the “Create” button to create a new custom alert.

Custom Insight Creation
Custom Insight Creation

In order to set up a custom insight in Google Analytics 4, follow these steps:

  • Select how often you want to receive the alert notifications, such as daily, weekly, or monthly.
  • For the segment, select the custom audience that you previously created and set a condition that the audience name is exactly the same as the one you created earlier.
  • To monitor an increase in 404 errors, set the condition to track the metric related to 404 errors, such as Total Users, and specify the threshold for the increase that will trigger the alert.
  • In the “Manage Notifications” section, enter the email addresses where you want to receive the alert notifications for the 404 error increase.
  • Finally, customize the alert name and description to indicate that it is related to monitoring 404 errors in Google Analytics 4.
Setting up custom insight to track 404 errors in GA4
Setting up custom insight to track 404 errors in GA4

To ensure the email notification is activated, go to the Insight dashboard in your GA4 property and click on the “Manage”  and you will see the list of insights in your GA4 property. Simply turn on the email notification toggle button beside the insight whose email notification you want to activate. 

Setting up email notification to track 404 errors in GA4
Setting up email notification to track 404 errors in GA4

By setting up email alerts using custom insights for a 404 error increase in Google Analytics 4, you can proactively monitor and address any spikes in 404 errors on your website, ensuring a smooth user experience and timely resolution of issues.

Do you need help with Google Analytics 4?

GA4 offers a range of features and capabilities that enable businesses to gain valuable insights into their website or app performance and user behavior. By utilizing GA4, you can effectively track and analyze data, make data-driven decisions, and optimize your online presence. 

At Vakulski-Group, we specialize in providing comprehensive assistance with GA4, ensuring you can fully utilize this powerful analytics tool. Our services include GA4 implementation, customization, and data analysis. By partnering with us, you can leverage the full potential of GA4 and make informed decisions for your business. Contact us today to get started on maximizing the benefits of GA4!

Final Word: Tracking 404 Error in Google Analytics 4

In conclusion, monitoring 404 errors in Google Analytics 4 is crucial for enhancing website usability and optimizing the user experience. By leveraging the features and techniques within Google Analytics 4, such as engagement reports and custom event tracking via Google Tag Manager, you can effectively track and rectify 404 errors on your site. Implementing strategies like fixing broken links, setting up redirects, creating custom 404 pages, and establishing email alerts for error spikes are vital steps to ensure a smooth browsing experience for your site visitors. Proactive tracking and resolution of 404 errors can lead to improved website performance, enhanced SEO, and better outcomes for your online presence.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a 404 error?

A 404 error, also known as a “Page Not Found” error, is an error that indicates the server could not find the webpage requested by the user. This error typically occurs when the URL entered by the user is incorrect, the webpage has been deleted or moved, or there is a broken link on the website.

Does GA4 track 404 errors automatically?

Yes, GA4 automatically tracks 404 errors if the error page is properly configured with a unique page title. Alternatively, website owners can create custom events in Google Tag Manager to track 404 errors.

How can I monitor 404 errors in GA4?

You can monitor 404 errors if your 404 error page has a page title that is not generic (like page not found) in your “pages and screen” report in GA4, or you can create a custom event in GTM to send an event when a 404 error event occurs.

How can I fix 404 errors?

To fix 404 errors on your website, consider the following methods:
1. Custom 404 Page: Create a 404 error page with helpful information, such as a search bar or navigation links, to guide users to relevant content.
2. Redirects: Implement 301 redirects to direct users from the broken URL to a relevant, functioning page on your site.
3. Update Links: Regularly check and update internal and external links to ensure they point to the correct URLs and fix any broken links.
4. Google Search Console: Use Google Search Console to identify and resolve your site’s 404 errors.
5. Track and Monitor: Track 404 errors using Google Analytics 4 and be vigilant about website changes, like page deletions or URL restructuring, to proactively address potential 404 errors or link checkers, promptly addressing any issues.

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