There aren’t words sufficient for expressing the frustration of a consumer who experiences a 404 error message when visiting your business website.
A 404 not found error is an HTTP status code that means that the page you wanted to access couldn’t be found on their server. 404 errors are bad for business because:
- They drive consumers away from your website.
- They hurt your bounce rate.
- They cost you money.
Broken links are the cause of 404 errors. When webpages are renamed or moved and the internal link remains unchanged, a broken link is the result. If a web page has been permanently deleted, the page address changed or if there is a lack of proper navigation, broken links occur which generate a 404 error message.
When there is no custom page setup, the error can be quite generic and off-putting; the easiest way to lose potential customers. When consumers encounter 404 errors on your website, it decreases the amount of trust they have in your brand. These errors alert them that something is broken and, for whatever reason, you haven’t fixed it. This begs the question: What else has this company not addressed?
Customizing a simple 404 error page on your website has multiple benefits:
- Reassurance – A custom 404 error page provides reassurance to your consumers. They can clearly see that an error has occurred, but the page reassures them that it’s not their problem. A good 404 error page will offer links to resolve the problem and also a search box.
- Consistency – With the use of a custom 404 error page, your brand can be consistent with how your website is represented. Generic 404 pages are unbranded and can present a jarring experience to your visitors.
- Reduces bounce rate – When your visitors see a custom 404 error page, they’re more likely to stay on your website as they’ve been presented with alternative actions they can take. The custom error page helps to encourage them to stay put, rather than clicking back to the search engines.
- Customizable – One option that isn’t always considered is to turn the custom 404 error page into an opportunity for conversions. For example, you could add a special offer or a CTA that takes your visitors through to a lead magnet. These could be updated on a regular basis.
- Shareable – Creating a memorable custom 404 error page affords you the opportunity for brand recognition outside of your own website. By injecting a little humor or self deprecation, an amused visitor may share your brand on social media with their followers. Clorox does a great job of turning an otherwise frustrating error message into clever, memorable entertainment.
You likely never considered a 404 error message to be a deal breaker, however your consumers sure do! All the website traffic you could lose over a dreaded 404 equals profit loss for your business. In addition to the direct impact of those lost visitors to your business, the indirect damage can be even more devastating! Take the time to customize a simple, clever 404 error message and reap the benefits!