I have a page like mysite.com/contacts/ If I enter non-existent urls like:


i get status 200 and the page opens mysite.com/contacts/ although if I enter:


As expected, I am getting a 404 error.

How can I implement error handling at the CMS level so that non-existent pages return a page with a 404 error template? There may be some plugin that implements URL management?

  • Yes, this is WordPress trying to be helpful by redirecting bad URLs to a close match. Do you want to turn that off? I can't remember what it's called in the code though to search for it right now. – Rup Oct 26 '20 at 9:51
  • Rup, yes i want to turn it off. My SEO specialist says that it has a bad effect on website promotion – Yushko Aleksandr Oct 26 '20 at 9:54

That's not what's happening, when you visit /contacts--/ it doesn't return a 200 code, but instead it returns a 301 redirect code. The browser then follows this redirect and heads to /contact and it's /contact that returns 200 code.

This is because /contact is the canonical URL of that page, and WordPress redirects to canonical pages out of the box for improved SEO. It should also be adding a meta tag to the header containing the canonical URL to avoid duplicate content penalties.

  • Thanks for the answer. I didn't notice that I was getting rel="canonical" on the returned page. – Yushko Aleksandr Oct 26 '20 at 10:19
  • There's a filter somewhere that turns this off, but I wouldn't recommend it – Tom J Nowell Oct 26 '20 at 10:31

If you need to prevent WordPress from guessing URLs, you can add the following code to function.php

function remove_redirect_guess_404_permalink( $redirect_url ) {
  if ( is_404() ) {
    return false;
  } //end if
  return $redirect_url;
} //end remove_redirect_guess_404_permalink()
add_filter( 'redirect_canonical', 'remove_redirect_guess_404_permalink' );

Link to article

  • I don't think that was the problem here though? (although I admit I thought it was to start with) – Rup Dec 16 '20 at 8:46

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