As Seen on SiteProNews.com article by Ed Duvall
By design, the server that hosts’ your web site delivers a 404 Error / Page Not Found when a surfer clicks on a link that the server cannot find or something else unexpected happens. The most common error page is the HTTP 404 “Not found: The requested URL/whatever.html was not found on this server.”
This generally happens when a person clicks on a link for page that has been removed, renamed or otherwise changed.
If you were to enter the link below into your browser and hit the enter button you would see my own custom 404 Error page: cashway.com/aintnosuchpage.htm (This link is not active and will present you with my custom 404 Error page.) What happens to your web visitor who gets that error message on your site without a custom 404 Error page?
Generally speaking they’re off faster than a “speeding bullet” looking for the information they were seeking - probably to a different website. That’s something you really don’t want to have happen and it can be prevented with a custom 404 error page that gives them options on the error page that will tell them how to find what they were looking for.
So the answer is? Create your own custom 404 Error page that suggests other resources on your site and then helps redirects that person to them.
In essence you’re capturing traffic that you had, but lost and didn’t know it, and keeping that visitor by helping them find what they need and possible turn them into a buyer for your product or service later on.
But “I don’t have the time or know how to make a custom 404 page”, you say.
Well good news - it’s not as hard as you think. If you have about 30 minutes and your server is a Apache or Unix web server then it’s virtually a snap to do
** Your Custom 404 Page Design **
In my opinion your custom 404 error page should provide at least these components:
- A simple statement that the requested URL was not found on your site.
- A brief description of some of the most common mistakes that couldhave lead the visitor to the missing page.
- A “plug” for one of your Free products or services
You can of course add other components like simple java script code for date & time and IP address display, etc. if you really want to impress someone with your technical wizardry.
Your page also should carry the look and feel of your web site, so you should include your header or footer or both so it is clearly branded as yours. You may wish to include some other links for your site that lead visitors to other pages you may want them to visit.