Is Your 404 Error Page Killing Your Traffic? (7 Examples Inside)

Is your 404 error page killing your traffic

If you don’t have a well designed 404 error page on your site, then you’re missing out on a great opportunity to get more traffic.

If you do have a 404 page then you could be inadvertently killing your traffic.

And if you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about it, then let me explain.

A 404 page is the error that people see when the page they’ve clicked on is not at the URL they’ve landed on. The most likely causes of this error is either a mistyped URL, the URL has been renamed or the page has simply been removed by the website owner.

When someone clicks on a broken link, the reader is sent to a page that usually says “this page cannot be found.”

Landing on a 404 page can often be a great source of frustration for the reader but it doesn’t need to be this way. There are ways to sweeten the deal when someone does arrive at the wrong place, and it’s an opportunity every website owner needs to take advantage of.

Some 404 error pages are creative and humorous and others are just plain boring.

Worse is that some 404 pages could be losing you traffic.

How your 404 error page is costing you sales and opt-ins

The problem with not having an effective 404 error page is that when people do arrive at your 404 page, they’ll often immediately click the back button or simply disappear and never return to your website. People are just too impatient.

You’ve probably lost them forever because they will never come back. What a lost opportunity.

Another problem occurs when people fail to set up 301 redirects. If you have previously shared or linked to a blog post or web page and you later change the URL but fail to redirect that page to the new landing page then you miss out on the SEO juice being passed to you. If you set up a redirect then you can transfer that  SEO juice to the new page.

404 file error page example

You want to ensure that you you’re not losing out on all that SEO juice because it’s often hard enough to earn it in the first place.

But put SEO aside and let’s think about your readers for a moment (after all it’s people reading our websites). If your readers land on too many 404 error pages, it doesn’t exactly provide them with a good user experience does it? And Google is ALL about the  user experience.

What should you write on a 404 page?

Instead of just stating that your page is not found, you want to take the opportunity to steer your reader in the direction that benefits you and them. That is, you want your 404 message to be helpful and direct people to your home page or other relevant page so you can continue to engage the reader.

An outstanding 404 page should put your readers back on track and not let them feel lost. Give them the opportunity to explore your website further. Not only that, if you’re building an email list, you can set up 404 page as an opt-in to get people to sign up to your email list. That’s exactly what I’ve done with my 404 page. 404 error page

If you can keep your readers on your site for longer, instead of disappearing and never coming back, then it helps to reduce your bounce rate (which is great for SEO).

According to Smashing Magazine, smart things to include on your 404 page is:

  • Your company’s name and logo
  • An explanation of why the visitor is seeing this page
  • A list of common mistakes that may explain the problem
  • Links back to the home page and/or other pages that might be relevant
  • A search engine that customers can use to find the right information
  • An email link so that visitors can report problems, missing pages and so on

This is a boring 404 page.

boring 404 error page
It doesn’t need to be this way…..

We can do so much better. Let’s take a look at some of the most creative 404 pages that exist on the Internet today.

7 examples of outstanding 404 pages that are visually appealing + user-friendly

You’ve been 404’ed.


Hootsuite helps to create a better social media experience for all with their sophisticated social media management tools. Their 404 page is characterised by wit and humour with the use of the owl mascot, which is central to their brand and the 404 page is no exception.

404 error page example 1


I love Fizzle’s 404 page. It’s a perfect example of a 404 page that helps to direct new visitors to some of their most important pages and direct repeat visitors to login to their membership site. Fizzle’s 404 page has certainly been created with the user in mind and if a person does stumble upon this page, there’s very little chance he or she will remain lost.

404 page example 2


LeadPages provides landing page templates and software and they provide a killer 404 template that can be customised to any website. They’ve created a 404 template that explains why the reader has landed on the page and have an opt-in set up to encourage people to sign up to your email list to get the information you have for them. It’s a clever way to increase your conversions and prevent the reader from leaving your website altogether.

SEO 404 page opt in

Kate Northrup

Kate has a reassuring message to her reader instantly disarming them by letting them know they didn’t do anything wrong. She then directs people back to her homepage or the reader can use the search bar to find something specific. Not only that, Kate’s 404 page, like mine, gives people the opportunity to sign up to her email list and take her quiz.

404 error page Kate Northrup

Danielle LaPorte

Who doesn’t love some Danielle LaPorte?! And one cannot help but fall in love with her 404 page too. If the headline doesn’t grab you (do’h! that link has gone south), then you can easily get back on track and check out some of her blog post collections. It’s a 404 page that offers value to the reader because she provides them with some really useful resources and doesn’t leave them stranded. Danielle also takes the opportunity to collect email addresses at the bottom of her 404 page.

404 page example Danielle Laporte


I had to illustrate Lego’s 404 page. The visual design alone is worth it. It’s completely on-brand and it doesn’t need a a lot of words or text to inform the reader they’ve arrived at the wrong destination (who would want to click away from that)?!

great example of 404 page


Duoh is a branding and digital agency so it’s no surprise to find a 404 page that is based on strong design principles. Their use of bright colours and negative space is consistent with the look and feel of the rest of their website.

excellent 404 error page


I had to throw one more in for good measure and while their coffee might not always be so appetising, the Starbucks 404 page has quite the aroma. Starbucks makes good use of its primary product to illustrate the 404 message. In this case, the tell-tales signs of a missing coffee cup are used to tell the story. Starbucks’s message is also disarming, reassuring the reader that something has gone wrong at their end.

leading example of 404 error page

There are plenty more witty, humorous and creative examples of 404 error pages I could have showcased. Smashing Magazine has an excellent list of examples you can read about here. 

Now to you….

Have you seen any good examples of 404 error pages?

How about yours? If someone lands on your 404 page, are you helping your reader find their way around your site or are you leaving them stranded?

Let know in the comments below. If you’re willing to share yours, just post the URL of your 404 error page in the comments.

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  1. I must admit that I get super excited when I land on a 404 Page these days that is well designed. Sometimes it impresses me more than the page I was actually looking for. LOL. I use the Lead Pages 404 error Page for my website with a link to a free download, but after reading this I think I might change it up a bit to include links back to the main pages of my site also. You can check out my 404 page here via this link that doesn’t work (he, he):
    Loren Bartley recently posted…How To Write A Facebook ReviewMy Profile

  2. Hey Shae, great fun article to read.

    I love your 404 page – clever and fun. My other favourite was the hootsuite one. Loved the lost owl thing – very cute.

    I have this on my list but I haven’t gotten to it yet so I’m off to add it to my spreadsheet for this week.
    Thanks for the reminder xx

  3. I never thought of this! I didn’t even realise 404 page could be customised. Thanks again for your valuable knowledge! x

  4. Great tips Shae & also awesome looking 404 pages. I just finished creating my own custom 404 page but went for a different route by integrating a custom game dedicated to my niche. It’s a fun little way of keeping users on the site.


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