A user usually sees a 404 page when they try to visit a page which is not available. It can be due to a broken link, the page has been deleted, moved or modified, or either the user has typed a wrong URL. In all the cases, it gives the viewer a very bad user experience which can be little frustrating.
Generally the moved or modified page is redirected to the corresponding new page using 301 redirect. But it cannot be done in all the cases. For e.g. if the page has been deleted and there is no corresponding page relevant to the content, it’s advisable NOT to do 301 redirect it to the homepage instead create a custom 404 page which not only can help user find what he is looking for but can also encourage him to explore the site further. This would reduce your bounce rate and help getting traffic to other pages as well.
Why to customize a 404 page?
For the simple reason that you would not want your visitors to return from your website after so many things you are doing to get them on your site either by organic searches or 3rd party links.
How to customize a 404 page?
- You can Google “404 widget tool” which adds a search bar on your page with relevant search suggestions and alternative URLs. To implement this tool on your Custom 404 page copy the code given below and Paste it into the body of the webpage.
- You can add links to the most popular pages/articles/blogs of your website and also the link for your homepage.
- Try to keep a theme similar to your website.
- Try to write a friendly message which reassures the user for the minor glitch.
Just an FYI:
If your web host has not enabled the facility to customize your 404 error page for your website, you cannot do it.