You have about 15 seconds to impress a visitor to your website and make them want to stay. You can do this in many ways including the design, page speed, and content. However, one overlooked method to optimize your website is to optimize your 404 error page.

A 404 error occurs when a visitor lands on a page that doesn't exist and the standard page is just the browser telling you that the page can't be found. This standard page certainly isn't going to impress anyone.

The method for optimizing 404 errors on is twofold. Firstly, you want to minimize the possibility of a visitor getting to the 404 error page, and if they do, you want to ensure that they don't leave.

Minimizing 404 Errors

There are many tools available to check for broken links on your website, and you should be using at least one of them. One of the best available today is Xenu's Link Sleuth. This clever program will crawl your website and try to follow every link it finds. If the link returns an error, Link Sleuth will inform you. This then allows you to fix the link so a visitor doesn't get the same issue.

Another method for keeping track of any potential problems is to make use of Google's Webmaster Tools. Once logged in, navigate to "Crawl Errors," which can be found under the "Health" menu item. It will list which pages are causing the problems and when they were last detected. Use this information to find out why the 404 error appeared and fix it accordingly.

Finally, another good method for avoiding these problems in the first place is to use Google Analytics. Find out how many visitors have seen a 404 error on your page by looking at your content tab, and set the filter to be the same as the title of your error page; usually this will be "Page not found."

With Google Analytics, you don't need to see what internal links are broken, as both Link Sleuth and Google Webmaster Tools will do. Instead, you can find out from external sources when people are landing on pages that don't exist. You'll need to do a bit of detective work to find out why, but once you have the answer, you can try to fix it.

Optimizing the 404 Page

Even if you have a perfect website, you're not going to get rid of 404 errors completely. Other pages may incorrectly be linking to your page, and this you have no control over. Therefore, the best thing to do is to create a custom 404 page.

First, ensure that your 404 page contains the logo, menus, footer, sidebar, and anything else that appears on all of the other pages on your website.

Next, apologize for the mistake and give visitors options to find what they were looking for. You could put a search function, links to popular pages or posts, contact information, information about your support area, and even your social links.

To create a nice 404 error page in concrete5 click here.


Remember that web design doesn't stop after you have published the website. Use your analytics to see how many people are getting a 404 error and leaving your site as a result. Play around with the design of the error page to reduce the number of people that leave your website.

Remember that you should treat your 404 error page like any other page on your site. You should optimize it for your visitors and try your best to keep them on your website.