I am sure that this has happened to you. You are browsing the web, looking for information on a specific topic or product. You read a description in the list of search results…think “Hey this sounds perfect.” Click on it and…nothing. The link no longer exists and instead of finding useful information you are left staring at an error page stating “The page cannot be found.” That’s it. No way to get you where you want to go, no way to find out additional information about the company or product. What do you do? Most likely you do what any normal person would do, go back to your search and click on the next search result – most likely your competitor’s.
Broken or “dead” links are one of the easiest ways to quickly loose qualified potential traffic; thankfully, they are also one of the easiest things to fix! There are times where dead links simply cannot be helped. Say for example your website just underwent a major redesign, during which you decided to eliminate some outdated pages from your site; pages the search engines had previously indexed. Until the search engines go out and crawl your new site, your old pages will most likely continue to be indexed. So how do you get around this? Quite simple actually, make sure that your website has a working Custom “404 Not Found” page.
Now…if you are a not a “SEO Geek” you might be thinking “404 Not Found” page, “What on earth is she talking about…I couldn’t be more confused!” Really, don’t fret…you have followed me so far right? So let me explain, in pretty easy to understand terms, exactly what a “404 Not Found” page is. To put it simply, a 404 error page is a page that comes up when someone (hopefully a qualified visitor) tries to access a web page that for whatever reason does not exist. The difference between a general error page aand a general “404 Not Found” page is that while the former leads you to a dead end, the general 404 error page provides the visitor with a link to the website.
Now let’s take it one step further, while obviously a generic 404 error page is better than an error page that takes you no where, it still doesn’t really drive people to your site. While the exact wording of a generic 404 page may vary, normally it is quite unintuitive and unfriendly – definitely not something that says “Hey click through to my site!” As a result, it is unlikely that the visitor will explore any further. That’s where a Custom “404 Page Not Found” comes into play.
A custom 404 error page is an easy way to get visitors to your web site even if you have eliminated pages. It also allows you to redirect your visitors to the pages of your choice. Best of all, with a custom 404 error page, you can brand it so that it has the look and feel of your website. With a custom 404 error page, you make it easier for end users to find where they want to go on your web site.
A Custom “404 Not Found” page is important for the success of your website. If you haven’t already had a custom 404 error page created and implemented on your site, you should seriously consider having this done now. As always, don’t be afraid to contact us at Vivid Image if you have any questions on 404 error pages or any other SEO topics! We’d be happy to hear from you!