How to Create Good Custom ‘404 Error’ Pages

    October 4, 2003

When visitors to your site misspell your URLs, or follow broken links to your pages, their browser will display a ‘404 Error’ page that will tell them that the page they were trying to access does not exist. At this point, they will most likely leave, rather than trying to guess how to get to their intended destination.

Fortunately, there is an easy solution to this problem: create a user-friendly custom ‘404 Error’ page.

If you own your domain, your web host will most likely offer you the possibility of uploading a custom ‘404 Error’ page, which will be automatically displayed every time somebody tries to access a non existent URL within your domain.

You can design your custom error page using the same editor you normally use to create your regular web pages. There are a few things you can take into account when designing your error page, to provide your visitors with the best possible user experience:

  • Brand your error page with your logo and the look and feel of your site.
  • Provide your visitors with a link to your main page (homepage).
  • Include a link to a site map, or display links to the main sections of your site.
  • Include a search box for those visitors who don’t want to take time to navigate your site to find the information they need, so they can just type-in their selected keywords, and immediately get a list of all the relevant pages within your site.
  • To upload your custom ‘404 Error’ page, ask your webhost or visit their website for directions. Most web hosts use Cpanel, a popular interface that allows webmasters to perform website management and control tasks. If your web host is using Cpanel, log in and go to the main menu, where you will see a link to the ‘Custom Error Pages’ section. After following that link, you will be able to easily upload your custom ‘404 Error’ page using a built-in web based HTML editor (just cut and paste the HTML of your custom error page and click the ‘upload’ button).

    To see an example of a custom 404 error page that incorporates the guidelines outlined in this article go to Accord Marketing’s 404 Error Page .

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    Mario Sanchez publishes The Internet Digest ( ), an internet marketing content site packed with useful articles and resources, and SEO Tutorial ( where you can learn the basics of search engine optimization in four easy steps.