The perfect 404 Error Page
“404 – Page Not found” – This Error on a website is now very rare, but it still happens that this Error will shown – and then this site has only one Goal: Bring the visitor to the Site with the Informations he is be searching for.
What is a 404 Error Page?
There are some reasons that a 404 Error Page is displayed:
The Dokument which has initially based on a specific URL has moved, deleted or the pagename was changed – so the original link to this site is dead. These dead links will be old listings in searchengines, bookmarks, linklists or old social-media-links. Often a specific product-link in an online-shopsystem or a teaser page will be redirected to a 404 Error Page when the Product is sold out.
Of course another reason can be a typing error in the Brower, in copy a link or anything between screen and executive chair 😉
However, too many 404 Error Pages will bring irritations and lose at least visitors – maybe visitors who come to your site to buy a product or a service… – on the other hand – too many 404 Error pages gives also a signal to the searchengines that your website not particularly well maintained – and this is a handicap which can destroy your position and ranking results.
Visitors tend to went away from a site with a 404 Error completely and often returns to the search-engines result to give another site the chance to show the desired result. To prevent this behaviour or to counteract at least here are some effective methods:
Funktion and elements of a 404 Error Page:
The Best is to let the 404 Error Page shown as naturally as possible to your other sites. A blank page only with your logo and an apology text probably does not help to keep the customer on the side. The better way is to embed this 404 Error Page in your normal Theme and give the visitor a short description what could have caused that the user has landed on this page.
This tells him, let him back better informed and can reduce the frustration of the visitor. The Traffic of your 404 page should incidentally monitors, which is not of course to find out how many users really land on the error page, what they have been searching for and what they do after that.
A search function should be also on this 404 error page, because so this allows the visitor to quickly find the page originally wanted, so maybe you do not lose the visitor who reached the 404-page user. According prominently the search bar should be placed. In any case, you should place a prominently placed link to your home page so that users are not tempted to close the error page and immediately perceive another offer on the net. Some companies work also with graphical details like arrows to draw attention specifically to the Home Button and the search bar.
Do you apologize the 404 Error Page?
Most of the reasons for the appearance of a 404-page are not limited to the visitor. A Visitor of your side can make a mistake or commit an error when copying a URL in the address bar, but most of the other factors are in the hands of the Webmaster. Therefore, it is nice if you apologize this 404 Error Page with a short excuse and then indicate the possible reasons why the user could have landed on your 404 error page and what he can do now. Again, it’s about minimizing the uncertainty of the visitor – not just for internet-savvy users.
Provide direct clickable alternatives
Besides link to homepage and the search bar also other links can be very helpful to show the user the pages with alternatives. For example, “most read / most recent posts”, “most popular / newest products,” Categories, Sitemap, etc.
Additional social plug-ins provide the opportunity to ask questions directly and establish communication to the sideholder and/or webmaster.
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