Posted in: News on February 9, 2012
A person might try to access a page that does not exist at your website. This can happen by mistyping the URL or clicking a damaged or broken link on a webpage or email. What happens then can determine whether the person trying to access your webpage gives up or feel gratified at the great help that you provided.
If you do nothing to handle requests for non-existent pages at your site, the person making the request will see a 404 page. This can be a standard page created on the fly by your ISP or a customized page that you create. The standard 404 error page is not only unhelpful but also irritating to the user.
Displaying a customized 404 page involves two separate actions:
- Create the page you want your site users to see, and
- Configure your web server to display this page when a user requests a page on your site that does not exist
Configuring the server to display the custom 404 page depends on the particular web host or server you are using. See their documentation on how to do it.
We look at the issue of creating the custom page that the user sees when the person lands at your site with the request for a non-existent page. At the minimum, you should:
- Make it look like the other pages of your site, with the same look and feel
- Provide a friendly message telling the user that the requested page does not exist n your website and
- Include a link to your home page and suggest that they go there and search for the page they are interested in
Actually, you can enhance the page to make it even more likely that the user will remain at your site:
- Include links to particularly helpful resources at your site, such an articles section or specific articles
- Include the Google 404 widget that provides a search box and suggestions. Add the following script between <body> and <body> on the custom 404 page after replacing your website URL in place of example.com:
var GOOG_FIXURL_LANG = ‘en’;
var GOOG_FIXURL_SITE = ‘http://www.example.com’