We all put so much efforts and time in designing our website and giving it a great look. But still, when someone asks for a particular page on your website, which is not present on it, they would see a page like this:
It sucks, right? Well, if you are thinking just about your website design, then Wake Up. This 404 error can be disastrous for your website’s SEO and its free traffic capabilities.
When do “404 not found” error occur?
The main purpose of 404 error is to tell your users that they could communicate with the server, but the server couldn’t find what was requested. This happens in the following cases:
- When the page, which your user is trying to view, has been moved or deleted.
- When they are accessing a bookmarked page, which is not available anymore.
- When your users start making their own URL’s for your website. (by omitting a word or mistyping a URL)
So, as you can see, 404 error is inevitable for a website. Sooner or later, your users would make some mistake in writing your website’s URL, which will result in this error. And unless you have a custom 404 error page, an error code (which looks like the pic above) would be presented to a user, which is not good for your website. Let us know why.
Benefits of creating a custom 404 error page for your website
If you don’t have a custom 404 error page of your website, then your users will see the above error code, on entering a wrong URL on your website. This is not just unfriendly for a users web browsing experience, but is also not good for effective optimization of your website.
On the other hand, creating a 404 error page, opens a world of possibilities for your website. A lot of webmasters don’t even think about it and, that is why, don’t even know how to take its advantage in not just improving the browsing experience of their users, but also to bring massive free traffic on their websites.
The following are the advantages of having a custom 404 error page of your website:
- First of all, custom 404 error page looks very professional than that default page.
- It will reduce the bounce rate of your website (as your users will not leave your website)
- It will help you in retaining you existing visitors. It is said that bringing new free traffic on your website requires 10 times more efforts than retaining the existing one.
- If you don’t have a custom 404 page, there is a likely possibility that a user that comes across a 404 page will not return to the site.
- It is very useful for optimizing your website. By placing the links of already popular pages of your website on your custom 404 error page, you would be, further, increasing the search engine ranking of your popular website pages.
- Having a very attractive custom 404 error page will result in enhancing the overall user experience of your website. Otherwise, they would not just have left your website but would have spread negative word about your website. This won’t happen now.
So, as you can see, having a custom 404 error page is not just useful for better SEO of your website, but also results in more free traffic on your website. But the contents of your 404 error page is very important for creating the right effect.
Creating an effective “404 not found” error page
From the above discussion, it is clear that 404 error page is not a dead end for a website. Including the following items in your 404 error page, would not just improve the search engine rankings of your website but will also bring more free traffic on it:
- It should have same design as your website, so that your user don’t feel alienated. They should feel like nothing went wrong, and everything is under control, else they will exit.
- You should have a search box in your error page, that can take the user to his/her desirable place on your website.
- It must have links of the most popular pages of your website. It is good for search engine ranking of those pages.
- It should be very attractive, and you can also include humor in it.
- It should contain a link to the home page of your website.
The above points are very necessary in retaining your existing users on your website, plus also helps in better optimizing your website. Attractive 404 error pages, also drives a lot of free traffic to your websites. All you have to do is to use it effectively to your benefit.