How to Make a 404 Error Page Work for You!

How to Make a 404 Error Page Work for You!

Have you ever heard of a 404 page? I am sure you have but may not even realize it. A 404 page is that page where you end up when a website’s page no longer exists. It is usually an abyss or just a useless message saying that this page no longer exists.

What a waste of a good click!?!

Your 404 page should work for you not against you! If the eyes are already on the page then it is important to make sure those eyes stay on your website and get another page view. Your site's ranking are partially determined by how many visitors you get and how long the person stays to visit your site. It is not good if the person leaves right away because there is nothing to see.

Try this on your website. Type the domain and then /gibberish . Where does your website take the user? If it is not to some relevant information then you have some works to do. Luckily for you it is not too hard of work.

What can you use your 404 page for?

This page should be a link to your most important content or a pointer to what your want the visitor to see.

  • Your most popular articles
  • Your post profitable area
  • Your Business Information
  • All of the above
  • Anything else you think your user want to see.

Should I have any 404 pages?

In short no, but nobody is perfect. The 404 often is valuable to save you from oversights while keeping the viewer’s eyes on your site. This can be even more valuable if you have a WordPress site because often pages and post pages appear that you didn’t even know existed. This could be archive pages, category pages, or any number of possibilities.

TIP: You should be searching your best keywords manually on Google to make sure all important pages are leading where they should. If they do not, you should setup a forwarding page at that location to make sure your readers can find that page. Also this will help the search engines adjust and not mark that page as invaluable.

Example: If I had a page called What is SEO? Located at https://www.klimack.com/what-is-seo/ but later changed to a different file format, I want people to still use the links I have built for that original file. I would need to set up a forwarder from /what-is-seo/ to the new file. If I do not create a forwarder, the 404 file should take control but if the opportunity to get people to EXACTLY where you want is available then that should be the goal.

If you click the link above… you should not see a 404 page. If you see a 404 page then I didn’t do my job.

How do I create a 404 page?

You can add this code to your .htaccess file in the website's root folder. You can replace the /whereto.php" with the name of the file you wish to use.

ErrorDocument 404 /whereto.php

By using the code above you can designate any page as the 404 page. It doesn't matter if you use a WordPress site or html site.

Kevin Klimack WInnipeg Manitoba
Kevin Klimack
I have worked in building the web presence of industry leaders since 2001. My techniques are designed to get your business to the top of the search engines and keep it there.