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What is a 404 page?

Written by Onder Hassan

Last updated: September 27 2022

404 errors are common, and we have probably all encountered one before while browsing the web. In fact, according to one study, over 10% of all webpages are 404 pages.

But, do you know what a 404 page is? If not, don't worry - you're not alone.

In this article we will review what exactly is a 404 error, why you may be getting a 404 page, and why 404 errors matter for your SEO.

404 page error

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What is a 404 Page?

A 404 page is the standard error message that is displayed when someone tries to access a web page that doesn't exist.

This can happen for any number of reasons such as the page may have been deleted, moved, or renamed and you have not set up a 301 redirect in its place.

When a 404 error occurs, the user will see a generic error message that says "404 Page Not Found".

The most common reason for seeing a 404 page is due to clicking on links that are outdated and no longer point to the correct page.

Other reasons include the web page they are trying to access no longer exists or they have simply typed in the wrong URL.

How Does a 404 Affect SEO?

While 404 errors don't have a direct impact on your SEO, they can indirectly impact your website's ranking in search results.

This is because 404 errors can result in broken links, which can make it difficult for Google to crawl and index your website correctly.

In addition, if users are constantly landing on 404 pages when they visit your website, this will create a poor user experience, which could lead to a higher bounce rate and lower ranking in search results..

What are Soft 404 Errors?

A soft 404 error is when a web server returns a page that looks like a normal web page, but it doesn't contain the expected content.

This can happen when a website owner incorrectly directs their website's traffic to a non-existent page.

Soft 404 errors are not always easy to spot, but they can be problematic for both website owners and visitors.

How To Fix a 404 Error?

If you see a 404 error on your website, there are a few things you can do to fix it.

First, check the URL of the page you're trying to access. If the URL is incorrect, simply update it and try again. If the URL is correct but the page is still not loading, try clearing your browser's cache and cookies.

If the URL no longer exists, content otherwise a user may be confused about why they have been taken to that page.

Creating a Custom 404 Page

A custom 404 page is a great way to add personality to your website and help visitors find their way around if they do encounter a 404 error.

To create a custom 404 page, simply create a new page on your website and include a message that apologises for the error and provides helpful links or other information.

You can also use this opportunity to add some humour to your website - after all, everyone makes mistakes!

404 Error Page Examples

To give you an idea of the different types of 404 pages. We've taken a selection of ones that we found on the web.

1. Smart Passive Income

404 page smart passive income

Here's a nice 404-page design from our good friend Pat Flynn. Here you're shown a standard notification followed by a link to the homepage.

However, you're also shown a search bar to search for what you're looking for along with some useful resources to their latest articles. You're also shown an opt-in box with a lead magnet offer.

A key thing to notice is that the page overall maintains the same design as the other pages on the website, making it consistent and less jarring for the visitor.

This will drastically reduce bounce rates or the likelihood of the visitor leaving. They're shown numerous options to stay on the page and to keep browsing, which is key for increasing the likelihood of obtaining an email subscriber.

2. Nintendo

Nintendo Custom Error Page

As Nintendo is a video games company, they're a very well-known brand worldwide with thousands of visitors going to their website daily.

In this example, Nintendo opts for a clean design with links to helpful resources to games, what's new as well as a link to contact customer services.

3. Gordon Ramsey

404 Page from Gordon Ramsey

Here's another simple 404 page offering a short error notification with an option to opt-in to Gordon Ramsey's newsletter.

What's interesting to note is that the opt-in form is hidden when first viewing the page and will need to click on the button on the right-hand side in order to reveal it.

This adds an extra step to the visitor's commitment to subscribe, which will result in a more responsive and engaged email subscriber.

4. Amazon 404 page

Amazon's 404 error page

Here's a funny example by Amazon. A very basic page with nothing but an image of a dog and 2 URL links to take you to the homepage and a page to learn more about the dogs at Amazon.

Not the best use for a page I'm sure you'll agree. But this is a great showcase to highlight how humour could be a great way to hook a visitor back into your business.

So if you find your visitor drop-offs are quite high, then consider adding a little humour to help recapture engagement.

5. Marie Forleo fun 404 page

Fun 404 page from Marie Forleo

This is a nice bold 404 page by Marie Forleo. Again offering 2 simple URL links to her homepage and an option to view a video.

She also includes an unobtrusive opt-in bar that stands out at the top of the page. This is a great example of how you can offer a lead magnet whilst maintaining a minimal design.

If you have a lead magnet on offer and would like to display it in a way that doesn't take up much space on a page, then following Marie's example is definitely recommended.

6. A Pinch Of Yum

Custom error page from Pinch of Yum

Here's another nice example by Pinch of Yum. The layout is very similar to the one used by Pat Flynn and offers a selection of food recipe articles to take a look at.

There's also a search box at the very top of the page along with a conveniently placed opt-in box in the footer.

Again, maintaining the same design throughout, this is a great page design to consider if you're in the food recipe niche and would like a way to recapture your visitors.

7. Dai Manuel

Dai Manuel Error Page

Here's another nice example of a minimalist design in the health and wellness niche.

It consists of a very basic design with links to connect to social media or to subscribe to the newsletter.

There is also an additional opt-in form in the footer, presenting another opportunity to subscribe.

Depending on the nature of your website, you may be unable to offer any links to articles as per the previous example.

So opting to instead include basic things on the page might be the only solution.

8. Yoga Journal

404 Sorry page - Yoga Journal

Finally, here's a great example of a well-designed page, offering an opt-in box to subscribe as well as promote the latest magazine that's currently on sale.

This is a great example to not only promote your email list but to also promote any paid offers you may have for sale.

You can see from the examples above how varied they are in design. But the key takeaway is to ensure that you maximise as many opportunities to re-engage and recapture your visitor's attention.

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