Do You Have A Useful 404 Page?

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Crashing into a 404 page not found result when arriving from a link where the visitor expected to find useful content could make or break that person’s expectations of that site.

We have several creative epithets and colorful metaphors we apply to sites that vomit back a useless 404 result, especially when the preview of the link in either a search engine’s results, or comments on another site, lead us to believe the destination will be worth the visit.

Other people run into that frustration, and according to monitoring site Pingdom, they are hitting it a lot in the top 100 websites as ranked by Alexa traffic.

“Curious about how the big players on the web were handling this, we tested the 404 error pages for all the top 100 websites in the US and found that almost one in four had an inadequate 404 error page. Sinners include Google, Match.com, YouTube, Blogger, Megaupload and many more,” Pingdom noted in their post.

Webmasters can do a better job with their 404 pages. Instead of just bringing the visit to an abrupt end, like Match.com does with a blank page, the 404 offers an opportunity to provide the visitor with a reason to stay on the site and look around rather than hitting the Back button automatically.

Pingdom particularly liked what Weather.com does with its 404 results. Weather.com identifies itself, has links to its other services, and provides a search option to find weather forecasts. It’s much better than another 404 laggard, Google, which tosses out branded page not found error 404s.

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