The 404 error page is a page that all websites should have. Of all the errors that take visitors away from your website, the 404 error ranks first. When users land on a page and don’t find what they expect, the thing they do is leave the site and look for another one.
Therefore, creating a custom 404 error page that offers choices and information is important to improve the site’s user experience and not lose potential customers.
The Causes Of The 404
The 404 error page is generated when the server cannot find specific content. This applies to an article or image. Generally speaking, there are 4 reasons that cause 404 errors on a website.
- Failure to install mod_rewrite.
- Permalink modification.
- Wrong code in index.php or search.php files.
- Removing a page.
Mod_rewrite. For your permalink to work, you need to make sure mod_rewrite is properly installed on your server. So if a 404 error page appears, the first thing to do is check if there is something wrong with the mod_rewrite settings.
Permalink modification. If you recently changed the permalink setting on your WordPress site, users will not be able to access the content with the old URLs.
Wrong code in index.php or search.php. Any incorrect code present in these files of a site built with WordPress can lead to invalid pages or addresses.
Deleting a page. If you recently deleted a page with outdated content, or if you changed your eCommerce product catalog, the old deleted pages return a 404 error page if not handled correctly.
In addition to knowing what is causing a 404 error page on your website, you also need to take effective steps to limit the negative effects.
How To Create a Custom 404 Error Page
So you need to carefully design your 404 error page to keep as many visitors on your site as possible.
With a custom design and containing useful information, which will help retain visitors and guide them to other pages on your website, your 404 error page will become an asset.
Create a Search Form
The default 404 error page isn’t useful at all. For a customer who is looking for your services and products, coming across a 404 page could give rise to the idea that you are a careless and unreliable manager.
Creating an internal search form on the site is a good choice. This allows people to search for information on the page and be directed to other relevant content.
Make The 404 Pages Familiar
When visitors see a 404 error page, they may believe they have left your website. Therefore, you need to provide them with suggestions that indicate that they are still on your site. To do this, you can create a banner that contains your company logo or write content that unequivocally refers to your site.
If a visitor lands on a 404 error page they need to understand why they can’t find what they were looking for. He needs an apology. It’s okay if it finds a photo of people or a vector image. In any case, it should contain a sad expression. Only in this way can the readers of your site perceive your sincere apology.
Offer Some Useful Links
You could add links that lead your customers to the website’s home page. Provide links to popular, most commented, or recent posts. In short, by inserting some of these links, your 404 pages can be useful for visitors who have not found the content they were looking for, without having to leave the website.
Report On Broken Links
Broken links damage the user experience and SEO ranking. If you have a large number of articles included on your website, deleting or fixing broken links in a timely manner can be a problem.
You should consider using tools to locate and fix broken links or allow visitors to report them on the 404 error page.
Prevent Indexing Of 404 Pages
All you’ve done so far is to make the 404 pages more useful. A custom 404 page will provide a better user experience. But other than that, you probably want to prevent the page from being indexed as well. In this case, the server must return an actual HTTP 404 status code.
Also Read: How To Write Long-Form Content