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.
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.
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.
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.
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.