Custom 404 Page
A 404 page is what a website visitor sees when they try to reach a non-existent page on your site (because they have clicked on a broken link, the page has been deleted, or they have mistyped the URL).
Why should you create a custom 404 page for your website?
You can rely on your web server to return a standard 404 page, but typically it will be rather bland, boring, and not very attractive. It also won’t be branded with your website. A custom 404 page can be branded with your site and provide helpful information.
If you want to stand out, a custom 404 page is a must have. A good custom 404 page will help people find the information they are looking for, as well as provide other helpful content and encourage them to explore your site further.
Because a custom 404 page can also be a standard HTML page, you can customize and style it any way you want. Here are some suggestions for creating an effective custom 404 page that can help keep visitors on your site and help them find the information they are looking for:
1. Use a custom 404 page to clearly tell visitors that the page they are looking for can’t be found. It doesn’t have to be bland or boring. In fact it can be very creative and entertaining. As long as you use language that is friendly and inviting you will be fine.
2. A great thing about creating a custom 404 page is that you can create it to have the same look and feel (including navigation) as the rest of your site. It can be seamless and continue your branding etc.
3. Your custom 404 page can contain links to your most popular articles or posts, as well as a link to your site’s home page. Really it can have anything you want!
4. You could also include a way on your custom 404 page for users to report a broken link. This is especially helpful if you have a large site which contains many pages.
5. If you would like this custom 404 page or perhaps something else created for you instead, connect with me.
6. It’s a smart thing to do because it will help increase your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranking. Search engines crawl your website by following links to all the different pages on your site. If a search engine is indexing your site and encounters a 404 page with no links, it’s not going to be able to continue. The result? Entire sections of your site can be left unindexed and if your pages aren’t indexed, then the search engines don’t know they exist and they won’t show up in the search results. This means potential customers won’t be able to find your website.
7. It’s also smart if you have moved a site or have restructured or reorganized pages etc. It not only helps your visitors to more easily find what they are looking for, it also helps the search engines to index your entire website efficiently.
8. Branding is another great reason. You can re-emphasize your branding. You can get creative with it and have fun.
9. It ensures you don’t lose site visitors who may very well have turned in to paying customers.
10. You can include a menu and / or a search box. Both of these things will help engage your visitors to help them quickly locate what they are looking for.
11. One of the most effective 404 strategies is the use of emotion. If you can make the visitor smile or even erupt in laughter, chances are high they will be more likely to continue on to your site.
12. I like using video because I know it increases visitor engagement by almost 80%. That is a pretty good reason to use it, wouldn’t you agree? I also offer custom video services.
13. Major brands like Marvel, 20th Century Fox, eHarmony, Pixar (just to name a few), who have millions to spend on market research and analysis are all using a custom 404 page. This should tell you something!
The sky’s the limit. You are only limited by your creative imagination. But wait… you can also tap my brain and hire me to create a custom 404 page for you. Oh yeah, I already mentioned that! I was just checking to make sure you are paying attention. You should do a simple Google search for the phrase “best 404 pages” to see some great examples and to perhaps give you some creative style and design ideas.
One thing you should keep in mind is that typically when a 404 page is created, it requires manual editing of your site’s .htaccess file. You do not want to mess with this file unless you really know what you are doing. When you hire me to do this for you, I will set it up in such a way that it does not require you to mess with anything technical. I can also set it up so that all you have to do is point and click to change your 404 page anytime should you ever wish to change it to another page.