Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Do You Have a Custom 404 Error Page?

Page Not Found errors (404 errors) can hurt your rankings.Have you ever clicked on a link and encountered a “404 Error – Page Not Found” error? Frustrating, huh? Once you’re there, it’s not obvious how to get back to what you were looking for on the web site. This is often caused by a web page that’s been moved or renamed. It can also happen when someone else links to your site improperly, causing your site to be unable to find the page they intended to link to. This is a sure-fire way to get visitors to leave your site with a bad taste in their mouths.

You need to avoid that in order to retain those visitors, and there’s a simple way to do that. You need to create a special 404 error page that expresses sympathy for your visitor’s plight and helpfully offers to help them find their way. The page should look like a normal page on your site, with normal navigation opportunities and perhaps a suggestion to try your Site Map. For an example of such a page, visit this (nonexistent) page at our web site:

Once you’ve done that, you need to tell browsers to open that new page when they encounter a 404 error. Simply have your webmaster add the following code to your .htacess file:

ErrorDocument 404 /notfound.html

where notfound.html is the filename of your custom 404 error page.

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