Curated News (10) Convert 404 Error Pages Into Opportunities
We learn from errors and my approach towards the 404 error pages is to take full advantage of them and turn the 404 error pages into opportunities. Websites should have nicer customized and more useful 404 error pages which are not actual pages on a site, but results of a status code response on the server side. In this article I am talking about the 404 not found errors, not about the 404 soft errors.
What’s the 404 error?
The 404 error is generated whenever a server can’t find the specified page. Even Google has them and I have dealt several times with Not Found errors on their results pages.
This error is a HTTP standard response code indicating that the client was able to communicate with the server, but the server could not find the requested file.
The web server will typically generate a “404 Not Found” web page when a user attempts to follow a broken or dead link.
How do 404 errors occur?
If you are curious to see if you have any 404 errors on your site, just check out your Google Webmaster Tools account. You don’t need to worry if you find them there as they can be fixed.
404 errors are a normal part of the web and they appear because of:
- A mistyped URL, or a copy-paste mistake
- Broken or truncated links on web pages, in an email message or on social media (who wants to have broken links on their site?)
- Moved or deleted content
- Third-party sites linking to nonexistent or removed pages
How to find 404 error pages?
Using Google Webmaster Tools (the Crawl section and Fetch tool) and Google Analytics. I also use Screaming Frog Spider Seo Tool, Dead Link Checker and sometimes another extension called Check My Links. Here are more tips in using Google Tag Manager to find 404 errors. And even Bing and Yandex Webmaster Tools.
What are the advantages of having a customized 404 error page?
- it conveys information about why the visitors were shown the error page and it makes it a more “friendly” error page
- it’s an added feature and advantage for your site
- it’s frustrating to receive a message like this: “File or directory not found”
- it matches with the other pages of your site
- it helps the visitors so that they don’t feel lost on your site and it shows you care for them
- providing useful links on the page increases the chances of keeping those visitors on your site
- providing your visitor an overall better user experience
Want a customized 404 error page? If so, our experts in online marketing can help you in creating it.
Here are some qualities of a good 404 error page and things to take into consideration for a 404 error page:
A good 404 error page conveys a right message and leads the visitor to where he intends to go.
Tell visitors clearly that the page they’re looking for can’t be found. Use language that is friendly and inviting.
Make sure your 404 page uses the same look and feel (including navigation) as the rest of your site.
Consider adding links to your most popular articles or posts, as well as a link to your site’s home page.
Think about providing a way for users to report a broken link. (Gov.uk have something similar but it’s related more to reporting a problem with the page in order to help them impove it)
No matter how beautiful and useful your custom 404 page, you probably don’t want it to appear in Google search results. In order to prevent 404 pages from being indexed by Google and other search engines, make sure that your webserver returns an actual 404 HTTP status code when a missing page is requested.
Some of our favourite 404 pages:
- http://www.metrokitchen.com/404 (wow for the content!)
If you’re wondering whether 404s affects your website’s rankings and if you should 301-redirect them to the correct URL, read here the answers. And one more about what should sites to with pages for products that are no longer available.