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Custom 404 (Not Found) Error Pages
Keep Visitors On Your Web Site
Originally Published: June 22, 2004
You've probably seen many "404 not found" pages when surfing the web. A "404 not found" page is the page that comes up when someone tries to access a web page that doesn't exist.
This usually happens when someone types a wrong URL or follows a link to a page that does not exist. A typical 404 error page looks like this:
HTTP 404 Not Found
The requested URL was not found on this server.
The exact wording of this error may vary, but it is normally unintuitive and unfriendly. It is unlikely that the person explores your site further.
People who come to a "404 not found" web page are usually lost visitors. These visitors don't see your web site information and they cannot buy your products.
A custom 404 error page keeps visitors on your web site
Most web hosts allow you to create a custom "404 not found" page. If you haven't done it yet, you should create a custom 404 error page now.
A custom 404 error page is an easy way to keep visitors on your web site. It also allows you to redirect your visitors to the pages of your choice.
For example, you could use the following HTML code for your own 404 error page:
<meta http-equiv=refresh content="2;URL=http://www.searchenginepromotionhelp.com">
Sorry, this page doesn't exist. You'll be redirected to our index page.
This HTML code simply redirects people to the index page of your web site so that they can find what they're looking for (replace "www.searchenginepromotionhelp.com with the URL of your own web site).
You could also create a custom 404 page that tells your visitors that the page is not available anymore. It also makes sense to give your visitors some choices.
Here's an example of such a 404 error page.
A custom 404 error page is important to the success of your web site
People often mistype URLs and some web sites have links to non-existent pages. This can happen when redesigning a web site or just through typographical errors.
With a custom 404 error page, you make it easier for end users to find where they want to go on your web site.
Most web space providers allow custom 404 error pages. Ask your web space provider how you can create a 404 error page for your web site.
I prefer a 404 page with links to key pages of the site like
. Be sure to make those links absolute (fully qualified) for a 404 page.
Avoid 404 errors for moved pages by using a
search engine friendly 301 redirect.
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