For web admins, the 404 page is the most-dreaded landing page for users. The 404 page is what they see when trying to reach a non-existent website. It happens when a server can’t find the URL requested by the user.
The worst part is they are nearly impossible to avoid. Most people think that it is alright to redirect 404 pages to the homepage. However, there should be better solutions to resolve this issue.
404 Page Bad Practices
It is not the best solution to redirect 404 pages to your website’s homepage. Using 301 or 302 redirects to your homepage is also a terrible SEO practice. Some website owners and SEO professionals do this to produce any link juice acquired by non-existent content.
The best thing you can actually do is to redirect 404 errors to relevant pages like a similar product category, or content page with the same information.
Maximizing 404 Pages
As 404 pages can be frustrating for users, the goal of web designers is to make a 404 into a helpful page by using links. It is important to provide links to give users a way out of the page instead of closing the window or navigating away from your site. The users will find it helpful to simply click on links or read about potential resources on an error page.
The links you can place on a 404 page are home page links, most popular blog pages, most popular or valuable product or category pages, a report link for broken pages, an HTML sitemap, or a search bar.
The Role of the 404 Page
It is a page that aims to inform the current user that the page that they’re trying to reach is broken or non-existent. The default 404 page is ugly, unbranded, and does not provide any information aside from the “error has occurred” message.
Overall, it drags down the marketing performance of a website. But maximizing the 404 pages will reduce bounce rate and keep users on your website, keep people engaged with your website and proceed through your sales process, and leave feeling good after a positive resolution to their 404 problems. It can also allow you to maintain consistent branding.
Links to Redirect from 404 Pages
The best links to place on a 404 page are external links—the pages that receive a lot of traffic or those that share a substantive share of your website’s total traffic, and the URL that the user is trying to reach. It also makes more sense to add a 301 redirect to send users to a more relevant and helpful page.
Like in any other situation, turning something wrong into helpful something will always be the way to go. However, keep in mind that destination pages used for your redirects should be legitimate replacement content. If you’ve got 404 errors for these URLs, have replacement content for these pages since they are probably the website’s most important pages.
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