Building a website is primarily an exercise in function and utility. In other words, a website needs to work: users need to be able to easily navigate from page to page without frustrating responsiveness issues, and potential customers or clients looking to convert need to be able to make a purchase or contact you with ease. Unfortunately, the reality of maintaining a thriving website is that designs and user experiences are subject to change over time; domain names may be changed, blog posts or pages can be deleted or renamed. When users attempt to open a deleted piece of content on any website, they are led to a “404 error” page. We explain the basics of what a 404 page is below, as well as how it could benefit your website performance to improve yours!
What Is A 404 Page?
A “404 error code” is a simple standard response protocol that indicates that your web browser attempted to load a specified piece of content, but the server is sending a 404 message to indicate that content could not be found.
Typical 404 Page:
For most businesses, a 404 page seems like an odd aspect of a website to attempt to optimize given that users are arriving there by error. Despite this fact, many websites do not do enough to direct their users back to the main content of the website. Failure to provide immediate safe clickout opportunities on the 404 page causes high bounce rate – most websites see over 90% bounce rate for 404 pages.
Here is an example of a 404 page that has not been optimized to retain visitors and prevent a bounce:
Major Brand 404 Examples:
Most high-traffic websites have optimized their 404 page strategy to some effect, either with clever/cute messaging to engage visitors, or providing a practical utility like searching the website to guide users back to safety.
Facebook’s 404 Page:
USAToday’s 404 Page:
Amazon’s 404 Page:
Resulti Media’s 404 Page:
Resulti Media’s 404 page strategy was inspired by Amazon’s dogs theme, while seeking to provide helpful links to direct users back to safety.
Prevent 404 Pages From Occurring In The First Place
In order to prevent users from being lead to a 404 page on your website, it is import to prevent broken links from being created when you delete post or page content on your website over time. For users utilizing simplified website management platforms like Squarespace or Wix, there is minimal opportunity to optimize the 404 page. However for WordPress website owners, the best way to prevent broken links is by utilizing free plugins like Yoast SEO or Safe Redirect Manager to force visitors to old URLs to be redirected to a new page, preventing the 404 from occurring in the first place.
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We hate to see time and money go to waste as a result of misguided search engine marketing tactics. Resulti Media LLC, an Irvine-based orange county pay per click agency, specializes in driving leads and sales at a profitable cost for businesses. To learn more about our digital marketing services, visit our website or give us a call: (424) 253-5271.