Your website attracts visitors from search engines like Google, Social Media sites and referral links from other sites, who obviously expect to land on a specific page or post.

But, what happens if they are surprised with a 404 Page, instead of what they were looking for? The visitors generally never come back again, increasing your website bounce rate! According to some stats, about 72% of your website’s error page visitors never come back again, losing trust. 

Every website has a 404 page, the chances of landing on it depend on the nature of a business and the size of a website. But, what if you can convert 404 visitors into potential customers for your business?

google 404 not found

First, do you know how to track the number of visitors landing at your website’s error pages?

I’d like to point out a few options:

  1. Track 404 errors with Google Search Console (GSC) offers a report of site errors (including 404s) that were spotted by Google’s crawlers. However, there are some limitations: those errors are logged by the Googlebot crawler (not necessarily viewed by users), so you can’t see how it affects users’ overall sessions, and you can’t include it in your analytics reporting.
  2. Track 404 errors with Google Analytics behavior reports. Another option which also does not require any additional development is checking GA All Pages report.

Usually, 404 errors are “born” when page URLs change, e.g. you edited a web address in order to add relevant keywords for SEO. If that page was already indexed by Google, new visitors from search results will be redirected to the old address of a non-existing page.

What are the types of error pages?

  1. 400 – Bad Request, when the data sent by the browser doesn’t respect the rules of the HTTP protocol.
  2. 401 – Authorization Required, when there’s a password-protected web page behind the client’s request.
  3. 403 – Access Forbidden, when the server understands the client’s request clearly, but for some reasons refuses to fulfill it.
  4. 404 – Not Found (very common and important), when the server doesn’t find anything on the requested location.
  5. 500 – Internal Server Error, most well-known server error, as it’s used whenever the server encounters an unexpected condition that prevents it from fulfilling the client’s request.
  6. 502 – Bad Gateway, when the server receives an invalid response from an upstream server.
  7. 503 – Service Temporary Unavailable, means that the web server is currently not available.

404 Page Hacks – Visitors to Customers?

Search Box

Your visitor was obviously looking for something, and since they couldn’t find it, they can do a quick search through the search box to see if you have any information about what they want. Also, add some brand content to let the visitor know they are on the right website.

apple not found page

Site Navigation

You also probably want to include a site navigation section, so that visitors can continue browsing your website immediately, without having to go back a page or leave.

airbnb not found page

Creative Fun

Some websites like to include creative apologies in their 404 pages. These aren’t totally essential from a relevant standpoint, but they can go a long way to calm a visitor who might otherwise be frustrated, keeping them engaged for a while.

Of course, creative fun may create interest to browse your website further sometimes.

slack not found page

Redirect Visitors to HomePage

Keeping a lag of 3 to 5 seconds after displaying the error page, redirect them to your homepage or a product page of your website. It can help them find what they are looking for.

redirect to home page not found page

Offer Discounts or Value

It’s hard to get visitors to your website. Now, let’s make sure of all the traffic that comes in. Offer some discount coupons, valuable content like e-books, whitepapers, latest blog posts, etc. to create interest.

Usually, visitors may be a bit annoyed, giving them some value or an extra reason to stay will increase your chances of conversion.

lands end 404 not found page

Conclusion

It’s really a tough job to get visitors to your website.  Error pages are like shutting doors when guests visit our home. But error pages are inevitable, they are common with every website, in every industry. We can simply try to make the best use of every single visitor who hits our website by trying to offer them what they want.

Let’s not sit back and relax, and try to make error pages more interactive and more appealing to let customers make purchases from them.