No one is exempt from making mistakes, especially when it comes to technology. We all have had to face a 404 Not Found error while trying to access to a website at least once in our life. This usually happens when pages are relocated, eradicated or when visitors add a rare extension at the end of the web address. Thing is, users don’t get along with 404 Error Pages, so it can affect the user experience to the point that visitors just leave.
These errors terrify website managers when they appear in Webmaster Tools. None of us wants to lose visitors or customers. If we are not t able to engage visitors when they confront our 404 error page, if we don’t make them want to get more information from your website, it’s likely that they won’t ever comeback.
How 404 Not Found error affect User Experience?
The reaction customers have to 404 errors is usually more severe than Google’s, especially if they land into a uncustomized 404 error. It does not matter the cause of the 404 error, this represents a serious disruption to user experience.
Even when we can’t prevent this from happening, as website manager we should be more concern about this issue, and try to lighten the disruption as much as possible with customized 404 Error Page. Otherwise, customers will probably leave the website, and look for any other source of information, services or products.
404 Error Page and SEO
404 errors can’t be avoided or prevented, so Google is not going to deindex your website because of these errors. It won’t even directly affect your rankings. However, Google does care –a lot– about delivering quality results. That’s the priority of organic search, and you should keep that in mind.
Google bots use internal links to crawl websites. So, if Google finds a lot of non-existant pages, it will assume that the website manager doesn’t care about providing a healthy user experience. This, of course, will have a considerable technical SEO impact on your page and a lack in traffic.
The importance of the 404 Error Page
404 Error pages exist to keep users on your website, even when they landed in a page that doesn’t exist. Therefore, it is so important to have a customized 404 page that engages customers, and make them want to obtain more information from your website.
If you put your best effort to create a brilliant, creative and even funny 404 page, it’s likely that visitors will stay to check what else do you have or offer on your website.
The perfect 404 page should be like this:
- It is advertising free.
- It let users know that they reached the page in error, but it’s done in such a way that it reflects the personality of the brand or website.
- It leads customers to other pages or to the home page.
- It is static HTML and doesn’t contain complex scripts because they might cause additional errors.
- It loads as fast as possible.
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