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Customize your Error 404 Page for Retaining Readership

Posted By Darren Rowse 28th of December 2004 Blog Design 0 Comments

SEO Chat has a good article on making your 404 error pages work for you to create increased traffic. Using these methods you can not only retain visitors to your site that have strayed out of your working pages but can also direct them into the areas of your site that you’d like them to head to.

‘Why do you need a 404 custom page? Well, what happens when someone requests a page on your site that does not exist? Have you ever noticed that some sites give you a very nice looking page when you mistype a URL, instead of that nasty 404 File Not Found? It is easy to create a 404 custom page in IIS and Apache.’

This is a technique I’m keen to explore in the new year – let us know in comment below how and if you’ve used these sorts of techniques.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • I launched version 2 of MobileTracker today and it includes a custom
    404. It’s a simple page that fits the style of the site and breaks the
    news–we couldn’t find the page. It suggests using the search field to
    find the content, as it’s possible the URL changed.

    I also made a custom 403 (access denied) page so when you try to list
    a directory that doesn’t have an index you a) don’t get a file listing
    and b) don’t get a nasty default 403 forbidden error page.

    I find that this really helps out since most users couldn’t guess what
    the errors mean even if there is money on it.

  • Absolutely agree, Four O’ Four error pages are pretty usefule to hide folders against browsing and get some $$ with advertisers.

    It’s also a way to turn a Web surfer’s mistyped URL into a possible purchase…etc.

    What do the numbers mean?
    Let’s dissect 404.

    The first 4 indicates a client error. The server is saying that you’ve done something wrong, such as misspell the URL or request a page which is no longer there. Conversely, a 5xx error indicates a server-side problem. It also indicates an error which may be transient; if you try it again, it may work.

    The middle 0 refers to a general syntax error. This could indicate a spelling mistake.

    The last 4 just indicates the specific error in the group of 40x, which also includes 400: Bad Request, 401: Unauthorized, etc.