What is a 404 Page:
A 404 page is otherwise known as a page that was ‘Not Found.’ This usually happens if person came from another site’s link and that page not longer exists or if someone typed in the URL and made a mistake in typing. Either way, it can be rather annoying for a visitor to come across this error and can make someone leave your site without even staying to look around, thus losing a possible conversion.
What Should You Do?
If you are a retail site, or any site for that matter, that contains products there comes a time when the product runs out or you have new inventory come in as seasons change. One thing that you should NEVER do, is pull the page down. If you can, at all times, redirect the old page to the new page. This is a common search engine optimization (SEO) practice, called 301 redirect and this is done so that your PageRank will switch to the new location. It will also take the visitors to a page where they can navigate to your products. Regardless, you will need a 404 on your page due to other errors that can happen (such as mistyping of URLs), so the best thing you can do is create a 404 page that is custom to your site and contains important links and navigation. This way you decrease the potential for losing a conversion. Your 404 page should engage the visitor and inform them to stay around and see what else is of interest.
Here are some tips I gathered from Bruce Clay’s blog on 404 Pages, and best tips to keep your customer, even if they came to your site via a broken link.
Your 404 page should:
- Blend with your site and should not alarm users
- Encourage them to stay and interact on your site
- A prominent search box
- An apology for the error
- A link to your site map
- A link to your home page
- Links to the other main areas of your site
Below are two posts I found that have some creative ideas on custom 404 pages and how to make them fun and effective.
- By Victoria Edwards, SEO/Social Media Internet Marketing Specialist