Part of a good business strategy, is knowing the purpose of every piece of your business, and making sure they align with your goals. One of the most important pieces is your website. Learning code, tweaking pages, developing copy, all that is cool -- but it wasn't until I got serious about converting, that the real fun kicked in. #Becausemoney!
When we think websites, we think the main pages: home, about, contact, services etc. Maybe even a specialty page like a resume, or extra features like the sidebar. What if I told you there are a set of pages and elements that go overlooked but are prime for redirecting and converting customers. Well, there are, and if you aren’t utilizing them you are missing out on prime opportunities to make money, build brand loyalty and engage with your audience. The most important and often forgotten pages, the 404 Error/Page Not Found.
What is a 404 Error?
When someone tries to access a page on your website that does not exist, a 404 error page will display. In more technical terms, it means the server did not find the requested URL. There are a variety of reasons a visitor might land on a 404 page. Some common reasons include:
- Typing the wrong URL in the address bar
- Redirect errors
- The page actually no longer exits. This is more common than you think!
- Permalink structure changes
Aka a mistake. In the words of Bob Ross there are no mistakes only happy accidents. So we are going to do just that, turn your error page into a happy accident for the visitor. This is your chance to be as innovative, or as simplistic as you want to be, just have a plan.
How to Make a Happy Accident
There are many different approaches to this page. A word of caution: unless you are in a creative design field, I would strongly encourage you to fight the urge to get too fancy with this page (like this). Create a practical page in line with your current site design and consider including the following elements:
- Add a search bar. Give another opportunity for the visitor to find what they were looking for.
- Create an attaching grabbing email opt-in pitch (maybe even with an incentive!)
- Redirect them completely, including popular posts and/or products aka posts and products you want them to see.
A quick do and a quick don’t for designing your page:
Don’t, overwhelm your visitor with too many options. Remember, they are already going to be thrown for a loop that the content they want is “not found”
Do, use “human language” -- 404 Error/Page Not Found is technical and abrupt. Start the page with something like:
- “Sorry, we can’t find the page you were looking for.”
- “Oops! Something is broken.”
- “Uh oh, this link isn’t working.”
A few of my favorite examples:
Take it Deeper. Looking to dive into the weeds of the thing (the technicalities -- backlinks, page rankings etc) try these sites:
The 404 Error Page isn't the only page that presents a prime opportunity to make money, build brand loyalty and further engage with your audience. Sign-up for the Insider's for details on other pages to optimize on your site (and other goodies)!