In the world of websites, 404 is the error number returned when a visitor attempts to access a page that doesn’t exist on your site. The two most common reasons a visitor gets a 404 error are:
- They mistyped the web address (URL) of the page they were trying to reach.
- They followed a link to a page that no longer exists on your site.
Default 404 page
Regardless if it’s user error or a bad/old link, the default 404 page that visitors see looks something like this:
This is not a great look for your customers... it gives them no indication that they have actually arrived at your site’s server and gives them no information about where where they should be going. Default 404 error pages can actually drive traffic away from your site, and most of them won’t be back.
Unfortunately, the result can be a missed opportunity to convert a visitor into a lead or a sale, and that’s a very poor return on the money and effort you spent to get them to your site in the first place. Thankfully, it is possible to create a custom 404 page for your site. Once this page is in place, your visitors will never see the unsightly and unbranded default 404 page again!
Why you need a custom 404 page.
Aside from the obvious benefit of not scaring away potential customers, deploying a custom 404 page can help you turn an unfortunate incident into an opportunity. Here are a few ways it can help.
Many businesses use their custom 404 page to re-emphasize their branding. When customers get to your custom page they see your logo and your message. It will emphasize they are close to where the were heading and can be given a correct path to follow.
Search Engines and SEO Optimization
Search engines crawl your website by following links to all the different pages on your site. If a search engine is indexing your site and hits a 404 page with no links, it’s not going to be able to continue. The result? Entire sections of your site can be left unindexed and if your pages aren’t indexed, then the search engines don’t know they exist and they won’t show up in the search results. A custom 404 page ensures that this doesn’t happen by providing links to all the relevant parts of your site, or possibly even a site map, so that search engines have access to your complete site.
Creating a Custom 404 Error Page
Most control panels have a utility to make serving custom error pages easier. For your convenience, we will be creating a series of articles explaining how to serve custom error pages in different control panels, or manually in apache and nginx. If you need assistance with this before we have these articles available, please contact Cozaq Support and we will be happy to assist you!