Human are emotional creatures. Hence, a customized 404 Page not found, server error page is an opportunity for you to make your site visitors feel a bit of emotion. They’ll love you for it.
#5 – Increase Conversions
The general site visitor perception is that as site owner you are accepting / acknowledging your mistake, when they encounter a customized 404 page.
If the customized 404 page, uses a touch of humour to acknowledge an error condition and make the site visitor smile. Hopefully that will effectively counter the fact that the site visitor has encountered a dead link on your site.
It’s likelier they will sign up and do some business with you when the time is right rather than just abandon your site and hop across to your competitor’s.
While I accept this is a hypothesis, you can get conversions by placing an opt-in or offering a persuasive discount on your customized, 404 Page not found, server error page.
Take a look at the customized 404 Page not found, server error page, shown in diagram 3.
This page with product recommendations led to increased purchases, new customer purchases, delivered a great add-to-cart rate, and increased average page views.
(Let’s not forget) it’s a customized 404 Page not found, sever error page.
#6 – The Elements Of A Seductive 404 Page
Include a search bar for navigating your website.
Hey! You don’t want the visitor to abandon your website do you? The minimum you can do to help them continue browsing your website is by providing a search bar on your custom 404 page.
Link to popular posts or the homepage
It hurts to lose a site visitor. A great way to try and retain them is by displaying links on your customized 404 page. Site visitors love to click links. If you serve your most popular articles the site visitor may stay back on your site to read them.
Use plain English to explain what went wrong
First the website serves your site visitor an error. Then the page displayed uses technical terms and codes to explain the situation as shown in diagram 4. Hey! Do you even want the user on your website?
Nobody (Yes, yes, not even your mum) cares about what went wrong with Your server.
Take a look at diagram 5, which would YOU have as an error page returned to you?
Did you notice another aspect in the above 404 page shown in diagram 5?
It displays possible reasons why the error was encountered. This is a big help, because humans are eternally curious. By explaining the why and proposing a solution the site visitor is often motivated to use your corrective action.
Allow the user to get in touch with you
It’s all about participation from your community. Offering a site visitor a chance to report the 404 error AND you empower them. They feel good about contributing to improvement of your website.
Simply display a small form on your website with a Submit button and let them communicate with you as shown in diagram 6.
This 404 error page content is really nicely worded. It would trigger the need to help in most site visitors. The time they take to fill in the form and Submit it ensures that search engines do not register this as a Bounce. Nice little bonus that, don’t you think?
Offer a chance to download a free Ebook as shown in diagram 7.
2 Methods To Create A Customized Error 404 Page
When setting up a customized 404 Page not found, server error page, you’ll need to tweak your .htaccess file. While this is really not rocket science, it’s often perceived as too technical for Bloggers to attempt on their own.
Here are two simple ways to create your customized 404 Page not found, server error page, without programming.
#1 – Use The 404 Page WordPress Plugin
If you are running your blog on WordPress there are many powerful plugins that can help you to easily implement a customized 404 Page not found, server error page. You can use the WordPress 404 Page plugin as shown in diagram 8.
The plugin is simple to use. It does not create additional web server requests. It makes use of the WordPress 404 error page handling. It’s also well documented.
#2 – Hire A Freelance Developer
WordPress plugins are really very helpful in the beginning stages of running your WordPress driven website. Unfortunately as your site grows, your branding, and catering to your website audience may become more than what the WordPress plugins can deliver.
That’s when you have to invest in hiring talented developers from freelance websites like UpWork and Freelancer. Post a requirement with as many specific details as possible. You should specify a decent budget you will definitely attract high quality application developers.
Leaving technical implementation to professionals, does save you time and delivers peace of mind.
2 Tools To Monitor Broken Links And Prevent Error 404 Pages
Okay granted you can setup a fancy, customized, 404 Page not found, server error page. That said, its best to identify all broken links on a page and fix then so that this server error is never thrown.
Here are 2 tools than can be used to monitor all broken links on your webpages, which helps you identify and fix them.
This is a great tool that can be used to identify all the broken links on a web page. The tools scans the webpage, lists the total number of links on the page, then finds and marks all broken links in red.
The drawback of using the Chrome extension is the check cannot be automated. One needs to manually go to each web page that you want to check for broken links and then click on the Chrome extension.
By the way, this Chrome extension is also a great tool to use for your – broken link building strategy.
What’s broken link building strategy – You ask?
It’s a strategy used to catch the attention of a popular Blogger, by steadily checking their webpages, identifying any broken links and finally drip feeding them this broken links to catch their attention.
Once you’ve got their attention, it’s relatively easier to ask for a back link or three from them.
If you like automation, you’ll love this WordPress plugin.
Once you set it up on your WordPress driven site, the plugin will automatically monitor all the links on the website within posts, pages, the blogroll, comments and more.
Here is a list of its nifty features:
- Monitors links in your posts, pages, comments, the blogroll, and custom fields (optional)
- Detects links that don’t work, missing images and redirects
- Notifies you either via the Dashboard or by email
- Makes broken links display differently in posts (optional)
- Prevents search engines from following broken links (optional)
- You can search and filter links by URL, anchor text and so on
- Links can be edited directly from the plugin’s page, without manually updating each post
- Highly configurable
Install this plugin and in the WordPress Admin dashboard, head over to Settings » Link Checker.
You will see the total number of broken links found and an option to choose the frequency of monitoring your website as shown in diagram 9.
For a more detailed list view of the broken links your website, in the WordPress admin dashboard go to Tools » Broken Links as shown in diagram 10.
Broken links restrict the flow of link juice on your website. If you don’t monitor and clean them regularly, you will experience a drop in your search engine rankings.
It’s not uncommon for a largish website to have 10 new broken links every day. So if you can’t fix all the broken links on your website (which is inevitable), customized error 404 pages are your next best solution.
Setting up a fun/engaging 404 Page not found, server error page will also help you in retaining a site visitor who mistyped a URL or clicked on your outdated website page still visible in search engine result pages. You can even convert this visitor into an email subscriber or offer them your products.
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