The perfect 404 page

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The dreaded 404 page can be a huge headache for anyone who manages a website.

Each time then a user clicks on a broken link, he hits the 404 page. I am sure you have seen this (or similar) message repeatedly in your browser’s window.



Remember, what you do in that case? Approximately in 80% of cases you just close the tab. It means that the company’s website, where you want to go, lost its customer or visitor in your face.

How make a 404 page a marketing tool, we discuss in this article.

The 404 error appears then:

– You have removed some page from your site. For example, there was a good or site section, and you decided to remove it because this service is not available, or product is no longer being sold.
– You have changed the structure of your site. The old page exists, but by the different address.
– The link was entered incorrectly or not in full.
– The site had dynamic addresses. Then they changed to user-friendly URLs but haven’t set up the redirects.

Note: Check the availability of broken links on the site you can with the help of the Xenu’s Link Sleuth program.

Check this pages out






This pages are beautiful, but not functional at all. Some of them end up the communication between the user and the resource. And the only way for the user to go to another page of the site will only be manually entering a shorter URL.

The 404 page should be not only beautiful, but also informative.

In order to make the 404 page useful for acquiring the new customers, it must satisfy the following requirements:

– The page should be performed in the same style as the design of the site.
– The page should offer the user to perform an action.

There is an example of a communicative pages below:





Why the 404 page appears in the index of search engines?

It happens, that the 404 page indexed by search engines, and in the SERPs users can see the following picture:
In terms of SEO, this situation is not critical, it will not affect the ranking of a site in the search results. But I think it’s unlikely that you’ll want users to see such snippet in the search results.

To index of search engines the 404 pages get for the following reasons:

1. Wrong server settings. It happens if the non-existent pages get a HTTP 200 status code.

According to Wikipedia: “200 OK is a successful query. If the client had requested any data, they are in the header and/or in the body of the message.”

2. It can also occur because of the incorrect CMS settings of the website.

3. Finder takes the 404 error as “unavailable” or “temporarily removed”. For example, the product was removed, but may return later.

To ensure that you remove the non-existent page from the issuance, you need to apply  the “410 Gone” code to a non-existent page, which will be perceived by the search engine as “deleted forever” .

I recommend you to watch video with Matt Cutts (head of Google Webspam team), where he talks about why the 404-page mistake does not disappear for a long time from the issuance:

4. A search engine glitch. Is quite rare, even when the server response is properly configured.

And how the 404 pages looks like on your website?

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