Hope like everybody in the online world you also want to make your website users and search engines friendly. You do on-page SEO and technical SEO of your website to keep your website SEO-friendly and errors free. But what if some users mistype your website URL when they want to access your website? So to convert an error page into an opportunity, we are sharing best practices for the 404 error page in this post.
These best practices will help you in making a custom 404 page for your website. But before that, you should know the possible reasons for the ‘Page not found’ error or 404 error on your website.
Reasons for 404 Page Not Found
- Old or existing webpage removed from your website but not redirected to the relevant live webpage.
- User misspelled webpage URL while trying to access your website directly.
- Broken internal link or link coming from some other website to your non-working webpage.
Why make a Custom 404 Page?
A standard 404 page on your website’s server lacks useful information that you can leverage by making a custom 404 page. Your 404 error page should be helpful for your users who reach your non-existing webpage mistakenly. Instead of users leaving your website after reaching a 404 error page they should be able to find the information they are looking for.
- Mention Page Not Found: Your custom 404 page should clearly mention that this page which user is searching for doesn’t exist on your website.
- 404 Status Code: Custom 404 error page should return 404 status code instead of 200 status code.
- 404 status code indicates to search engines that this page is not found. So search engines don’t index these pages.
- If your 404 error page returns a 200 status code which indicates the page is working fine then this page can be indexed in search engine results which is not good from search engine as well as user’s perspective.
- Add Relevant Links: It’s good to add links to the Home Page of your website and to your most popular website pages or blog posts.
- Similar to Other Website Pages: The custom 404 page should look similar to your other website pages like the main navigation, brand logo, and footer should remain the same.
- Add Search Box: To be helpful to the visitor you can add a search box on your error page.
5 Brands with Good Custom 404 Page
NetApp is one of the big business names in the data management and cloud industry. If you mistakenly try to access any broken page in this website it shows a link to its Home Page with several other relevant webpage links like Cloud Services, Data Storage, and more. It clearly mentions ‘We can’t find the page you were looking for’. This error page looks attractive and user friendly.
Facebook is one of the most famous social media platforms. Its 404 page clearly highlight page isn’t available. It shows a CTA to log in or signup, relevant links to the previous page, news feed, and help center. All this makes it a good error page.
HubSpot is a reputed company in developing and marketing industry. It’s error page is catchy with heart broken image as well as some relevant links to it’s blog, product page and free demo link.
The Coca-Cola Company is an iconic drink and beverages company worldwide. If you mistakenly reach the error page of Coca-Cola then it clearly highlights ‘page not found’ with a catchy image showing 404. It shows links to its relevant pages like brands, sustainable business, and contact page.
CNN is a multinational news-based television channel. If you mistakenly access a non-existing page on this website you will get an error page with a search box. Providing a search box to your users is always helping as users can easily search whatever they want.
All About 404 or 410 Status Code
All the 4xx status code errors are client side errors. These type of errors happen when accessed page doesn’t exist on server side.
- 404 Status Code conveys that the page not found on the server-side. But this status code doesn’t clearly convey that the page is not available temporarily or permanently.
- 410 Status Code indicates the page is permanently removed from the server and this page will not be forwarded anymore.
As John Mueller highlighted in a Google webmaster central hangout video a few years back:
“A 410 will sometimes fall out a little bit faster than a 404. But usually, we’re talking on the order of a couple days or so.”By John Mueller
This indicates that a page with 410 status code can speed up the process of removing the web page from Google’s index. Whereas a page with a 404 status code can take few more days for deindexing from Google search results.
So if you are sure about a particular page that needs to be removed permanently and needs to be deindexed faster from Google search results then you can opt for 410 status code.
Your website should always provide a good user experience even if a user reaches a non-existing webpage on your website. So you should create a custom 404 error page which should be able to keep your users engaged within your website.
Always create a catchy, in line with your brand and engaging custom 404 error page to convert an error into an opportunity for your website.