Have you forgotten to optimize your 404 page? Are you still using an out-of-the box 404 template? Of course, no user likes arriving unexpectedly at a “Page Not Found”, but with a custom 404 page you’re more likely to induce the user to stick around. In fact, a well-optimized 404 page that provides a good user experience (UX) can actually turn lost visitors into converting customers. A little humor, clean layout and good design make all the difference.
If It’s Broken, Fix It
How do users end up on your site’s 404 page? Broken links are probably the most common reason. To fix this, try to implement a 301 redirect every time you remove or rename a page or change a URL. Still, a few broken links are bound to slip through, or a user may simply mistype a page address. In either case, it’s important to anticipate these external “not found” errors. You can do this by pulling a report from Google Search Console every couple of weeks and implementing 301 redirects. Always direct the user to the most relevant live page, but not the homepage.
Sometimes you may see an unusually high number of 404 errors. The source of these should be investigated, as they may be the result of a compromised website. However, a large number of unexplained crawl errors can also be due to Google crawling an old, cached version of the site. Whatever the source of the external crawl errors, get into the habit to regularly check, address and repeat. Time and again, we’ve seen sites improve in rankings thanks to consistent attention to technical SEO.
Reduce Your Bounce Rate
A generic 404 page will likely cause users to leave your site, and too many of these “bounces” can hurt your site’s rankings. Think about your site’s 404 page from the user’s perspective. Remember, users who land there are lost visitors – are you providing information that will help them find their way? Create a custom page with links to your most important services and possibly a custom search bar. The goal is to direct the visitor to where they want to be and from there guide them further through your sales funnel. Here’s an example from our 404 page:
This type of 404 page helps to drive visitors further into the site, improving engagement. The search bar is useful as it may reveal opportunities to improve your site’s navigation or even provide content ideas for your next blog post.
Share Your Brand’s Personality
The more engaging your 404 page is, the better the chance that users will stay and keep browsing. This page presents the perfect opportunity to share a little humor or to showcase your brand’s personality. Here are a few of our favorite examples:
Boden – The British clothing retailer uses a playful image and detailed options to help get a user to where they need to be.
Bitly – The link shortening company offers a nice concise explanation of what probably went wrong, plus fun animation with the bobbing pufferfish.
Perdue – Sometimes fewer choices are better. Our friends at Perdue Farms use a little humor to provide users with two clear options: the search bar or the homepage.
NPR – This news site uses the 404 page in a clever way, directing users to content about other “lost” people, places and things – from the missing Watergate tapes to the lost city of Atlantis.
HubSpot – The marketing automation software company’s 404 page conveys clean design and consistent brand voice:
Applegate – This is another example of a brand leveraging a little humor and providing two clear options: visiting the homepage or learning where to buy the product.
Sur La Table – The gourmet cooking retailer uses a playful image to subtly remind visitors of the joys of cooking and offers the search bar to get them back on track.
Goodreads – The bookseller’s site puts the “not found” page in context with a well-known story or poem. Better still, the site serves up a new version each time a user lands on the page.
Tripadvisor – In a clever play on the “good news, bad news”, this travel site smoothly direct the user back to planning their trip, keeping them moving down the funnel.
Let us show you what improved site engagement can do for your rankings. Call periscopeUP today at (443) 475-0787 or Contact Us online.