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Avoid "Lost" Traffic By Creating
Customized Error Pages
I'm amazed at the number of web sites that don't have a
customized 404 error page. I believe you've also been to
pages that does not exist somehow. The ugly default IE error
page comes up saying something like "Can not find this
page on this server. Please contact administrator, blah,
Nobody is going to contact the administrator or Webmaster
and tell them "hey, you've got a non-existing page
there..." Be honest, will you do that?
What we'll do is, click the BACK button and go to another
web site. They would have just lost another potential customer.
What a waste!
There could be a few reasons for a 404 error message showing
up, dropped page, site down, visitor keyed in wrong URL,
site redesign... You see, one thing that's certain on the
Web is, nothing stays the same for very long. This is especially
true when it comes to pages of your web site. When you first
create your site you may think you'll never need to alter
the structure. But as your site grows, chances are there
will come a day when you need to move, delete or change
the names of existing pages.
When you are busy promoting
your web site (and you should be), those non-existing
pages are still there in cyberspace listed in
search engines, on other web sites in the form of
links exchange, in directories, articles,
etc. It would be impossible to contact all of these people
and give them the new URL.
When a surfer clicks on that link, the ugly default error
page comes up and you lose a visitor.
So what should you do to avoid the "lost" traffic?
Create a customized 404 error
By providing a custom 404 error page, you increase the
chances of the surfer giving your site another chance.
Check out what happens if you try to
visit a non-existing page in this site.
A custom 404 error page is a special HTML page that you
create that automatically comes up if someone tries to visit
a page from your server that does not exist. There are some
important ingredients you want to include in the page:
- Brief Explanation: Tell them that they have reached a page
that no longer exists or has been moved - in plain English,
don't just say "404 Error".
- Include a menu, site map or search function as options.
- Provide a link to the most important page in your site
where you want visitors to go most.
- The same look and feel as other normal pages in your
Now go to your web site control panel, look for "Custom
Error Pages" option and activate it. You will also
get instruction on what name you should give to the error
page. Most likely "404.html".
FTP this error page
up to your server and you're done. Test it by typing an
incorrect URL into your browser and make sure your new error
page is working correctly.
Notice that there are a number of other error pages that
you can customize in the same way, such as:
- 400 Error - Bad Request
- 401 Error - Authorization Required
- 403 Error - Forbidden
- 500 Error - Internal Server Error
Feel free to use this article in your
publication or web site.
It's pre-licensed to you.
The only requirement is to include this resource box:
Article by Zac Hewlett at
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