We’ve all been browsing on the Internet and at some point, clicked a link on a page that tells us that the original page no longer exists. This page is known as a 404 error. Oops... Don’t lose potential customers!
Use this opportunity to inject some of your brand’s personality into a custom 404 page to keep those visitors sticking around. Ready to design a 404 page for your website? Let’s get started!
What Causes a 404 Page?
There are several reasons why a visitor might encounter a 404 page on your website. Here are a few reasons:
A URL has Changed
Let’s say that you created a page or a blog post and publish it. Google indexes the page and it will show up in search results eventually. Later, you update this post with new content and change the URL to reflect that change. Anyone that clicks on the original link will be redirected to a 404 page because the previous link is now broken.
A URL Has Been Removed
Any time you delete or disable a page or blog post on your website you create a broken link. For instance, if you regularly link to related posts throughout your web pages and blog content, and you delete one of those linked posts, it will direct to a 404 page when clicked on. Tip: Any time you delete or change any blog post, update any pages or related posts that link to that specific blog.
The URL Doesn’t Exist or is Misspelled
If someone looks for a page that does not exist or the URL is misspelled when they search, they will be redirected. Since this is on the user’s end, there is nothing that you can do to prevent this from occurring.
What Does a 404 Page Look Like?
Generally, a 404 page, or “Page not found,” page is a simple page of text that tells your user that the page no longer exists. A 404 page might look something like this:
It can be frustrating for visitors to expect a specific piece of content and instead receive an error message with no further assistance or instructions. It is like they hit a brick wall and have nowhere to go. Frustrating! Instead of allowing your visitors to hit a wall, use this opportunity to promote your other content, products, or services.
The Importance of a Custom 404 Page
If someone encounters a standard 404 page on your website, they will likely leave your website. Bounce rates are bad for SEO! You want to keep visitors on your site as long as possible to show search engines that you are offering valuable content to your users. Visitors are more likely to stick around when you guide them in the right direction or give them other content to click on.
Personal touches like a custom 404 page can enhance your user’s experience, and make your site look more thoughtful, professional, and on-brand.
What to Include in a 404 Redirect Page
Instead of using something generic like “This page no longer exists,” create a custom message for your visitors instead. Tip: Your 404 message will entirely depend on what is appropriate for your target audience and clientele.
Keep it simple. Don’t overthink your 404 page. It is likely no one will see this page, so don’t stress if it isn’t perfect. Here are some great examples of engaging 404 redirect pages:
A Custom Message
Consider the overall vibe of your website and brand and compose something that fits. It could be as simple as “Oops! This page is missing. Here are some alternatives.”
If you have a blog, link to your top post or most recent articles on your 404 page to make it easy for your visitor to navigate other parts of your website. You could also link to the most popular page on your site (besides the home page) to drive further traffic to that page.
Products or Services
If you sell products on your website, a 404 page is a great opportunity to prompt them.
Give visitors the option to search for a page like what they were originally looking for. This can help decrease frustration and bouncing and will give them another way to engage with your website.
Contact Form or Button
Include a call-to-action and add a contact form or a button that links to your contact page on your website. Don’t miss an opportunity to make yourself easily reachable! Tip: Use this space to entice visitors to sign up for your newsletter!
Design Engaging Customer Interactions with Charisma
As you can see, a custom 404 redirect page is an opportunity to re-engage a visitor that may have become frustrated and left your website for another. At Charisma Communications, we create compelling blogs, webpages, and newsletter content to amplify your brand and convert visitors into customers!
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