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Lost Pages – 404 Errors

404“Page Not Found” This is something just about everyone has seen at one time or another if you’ve spent anytime online at all. The “web” term for these pages are called 404-pages.

Now you are probably thinking why is a “page not found” or a 404 error page a website mistake, and that would be a fair question to be asking, so let me explain what this mistake is, how you can benefit from it and how to correct it.

First we’ve already mentioned “what” it is but let me explain how “people” get there. 404’s are usually found either from a broken link on your website some where; or someone has tried to type in a url to a specific page on your site and has either mistyped it or the page is no longer there. It is possible that you will see in your stats that there have been requests for your robot.txt fie which is a common file that search engine spiders look for, and if you don’t have one then a 404 page would be triggered.

Now to explain how 404 pages can “help” you. There is a lot of discussion about what should or shouldn’t be displayed on your 404 page or if you should even display the error page. My personal opinion is to display the page but have key elements on the page, such as a logo or look and feel of your website, along with a message saying that the page they are looking for was not found but click here to go to the home page of your website.

Another option is if the visitor hits your 404 page, automatically redirect them to the home page of your website. This option works really well, but in discussions I’ve heard people say that the visitor is a little confused as to what just happened.

By utilizing the custom 404 page, you don’t miss out on the opportunity to connect with that visitor. With out any information on that page the visitor would just enter something else into the web address bar and go else where.

The easiest way to remedy this issue is to log in to your control panel (cpanel) and look for the icon that says “Error Pages”. This will list all of them, be sure to click the 404 and enter your information there. If you are unsure what to put there you can search Google to see some examples.

If you are uncomfortable doing this you can easily hire a programmer from rent-a-coder.com or getafreelancer.com to quickly do this for you. It is a quick project and once you have a template you can copy and paste it into your other sites.

To find more articles like this one visit 50 biggest website mistakes

2 Comments

  1. Connie Ragen Green on July 20, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Coincidentally, I just wrote a post about links that don’t work. How do you find your links on the web that no longer work, if they are not connected to one of the sites you own and manage?

  2. Frank Deardurff III on July 20, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Connie – THAT is a good question! I could only think of two options for this scenario in which you have links in say articles or ebooks that you’ve distributed. One would be to use a link manager piece of software such as a short url script on one of your main sites. This would serve to purposes giving you a link database of sorts that you could check reguarly and give you the option of click tracking to see activity!

    Another option would be to use a solution I’m sure our DF Jeanette Cates uses and that would be to put those links into a spreadsheet listed according to what article or ebook they were posted in!

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