Today’s Daily SEO Tip was contributed by Saptarshi Roy Chaudhury. Enjoy!
404 Errors are probably one of the most commonly found error pages in any website and the typical reaction is that your visitors would bounce off the page as soon as they see the 404 error message. Now why do we let them go and give them alternative options ?
A custom 404 page can be extremely useful and at times even lower the user’s disappointment by adding a little humor to it. Here are some of the characteristics that you should have in a good 404 error page.
- It should clearly mention to the visitors that the page they are looking for is not available but the language should be friendly
- Design your 404 page to have similar structure as your main website so your visitors do not feel that they have been thrown out of the website.
- Make sure you have a proper active navigation on your 404 error page and links to all the important pages / sections of your site.
- Having said the point above, I would again emphasize the need for having a link to the home page and Site map page. Site map page is probably the easiest bail out for a visitor stuck in a error.
- If you have a site search function, make sure you put your search box on the 404 page. That is another easy way visitors can find the content that they are looking for in your site.
- You can also add an option for users to report broken links.
Irrespective of whatever customization you do to the 404 page, it is important that your server still returns a 404 HTTP status code. At times, it is seen that due to improper implementation of custom error pages the server response changes ( typically generates a 200 OK response ).
This tip was contributed to Daily SEO Tip by Saptarshi Roy Chaudhury. If you are looking for the technical aspect on 404 Error pages, read..
8 Causes of 404 Error and Solutions
How to Create a Custom 404 Error Page