Optimizing Your 404 Page

While you may hope that 404 page errors will never happen, chances are they will. And they are not necessarily your fault either. All it takes is for someone to use a faulty link to your website. Maybe they cut and pasted it wrong. But no matter what the reason, 404 errors happen and it’s best that you are prepared for them. In this post, we’ll look at the best way to optimize your 404 page for a better user experience, Google Analytics tracking options, and how to prevent as many 404 errors as possible.

Why You Need a Custom 404 Page

Go to your website right now (or your client’s) and type in the following URL:


Unless you happen to have a page named 404, you should find out what your 404 error page looks like. Hopefully, it’s not something that looks like this.


The average Internet user may not know that a 404 error simply means the page they were looking for is missing. They might think your entire website is gone and go in search of a new website. This could lead to lost readers, subscribers, leads, and sales. All just because they tried to reach one little missing page.

This is why having a custom 404 page is a must for every website, whether it is a blog or a business.

Essential 404 Page Elements

There are two ways you can go with 404 error pages: creative or constructive. Or you can mix in a little of both like SEOagdget does with the 404 page shown below.


To decide what you should have on your 404 page, you can answer the following questions.

If that doesn’t work for you, then you can stick with these safe bets of what you should link to you on the 404 page..

In conjunction with your main menu bar, this should be enough information to keep visitors who meant to find your website there. Anything less and they might leave.

404 Page Analytics

There are lots of great tutorials on how to get Google Analytics to track your 404 page hits, so I won’t go into the lengthy details here. Instead, you can see the following.

These will help you see the latest pages on your website that cause a 404 error and the websites that referred them.

Preventing 404 Page Errors

So how do you prevent 404 page errors? First of all, recognize when missing pages may be created.

Whenever you do these things, think about the links that might have changed and makes rue to set up a redirect for them in your .htaccess file. WordPress users can install the Redirection plugin to set up redirects within the WordPress dashboard.

You can also visit your Google Webmaster Tools and look under Health > Crawl Errors > Not Found to see what pages are currently causing the most 404 errors in rode of when they were last detected. You’ll want to redirect these pages immediately to transfer their link value to a page that is live on your website.

What other tips do you have for a successful 404 page? Please share your tips or your favorite 404 pages in the comments!

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