The dreaded 404 page is something that almost everyone has encountered in their online journeys. The most common reasons for landing on a 404 page include:
- a mis-typed URL
- an out-of-date bookmark
- a search engine link that is out-of-date
- an internal broken link that the webmaster hasn’t noticed
Surveys suggest that approximately 40% of users who run into a 404 Page Not Found error will leave your site, never to return.
However, as a webmaster, these pages should be customized in order to help the user find their way back to your website. To create your own customized 404 page, keep the following guidelines in mind.
Provide an explanation of what went wrong. A nice way to apologize would be to offer them a free report. By using this technique, your visitors will not only be impressed by your creativity, but you can also collect their name and email adress at the same time.
Provide a link to the site map. By redirecting them to your sitemap, they should be able to quickly and easily find what they are looking for.
Provide a search box for users to target in on exactly what they originally came for.
Use minimal navigation. This is not the place to put your entire site navigation. You simply want to pull them back into your website so that you are not losing any of your potential customers.
Some helpful examples of 404 error pages can be found at:
Here is a great article on what should be on your 404 Error page: http://www.plinko.net/404/howto.asp?article=2