Sunday, December 21, 2008

How to keep Visitors on your Website - Custom 404 page

How many of you have come across this message before? I'll guess and say a lot.

Barcelona SEO - html 404 error page

OK, mine's in Spanish, and I've chosen Internet Explorer's version as it's the most widely used, but Mozilla and Mac users will have seen a similar message. So what do you usually do? A very low percentage of people would click back, and re-navigate the site to find the page they were looking for. A high majority of people would think that the website they are using have crashed and close the browser window, and the other percentage would just close and go and find the information they needed on someone else's website.

Unfortunately, site errors can be common and sometimes occur through no fault of our own. I've seen many inbound links from sites or blogs supposedly recommending a client's site all with good intentions, but mis-typing a url, for example. This is free publicity and should not be sniffed at. However, coming up with an error like the one above (known as a html 404 error page) not only turns the visitor off, but creates a bad impression overall of your site, and pretty much ensures that the visitor won't remember your site, or be back in a hurry.

The good news is that there's help at hand. It's a very good practice to make a custom 404 web page - a page which gives the same information, but follows the template and colours of your own website. It's much easier to see a small error message that the page you're looking for couldn't be found, but in the tone of your website, and a gentle re-direction to the home page or somewhere else like a site map, for example.
Barcelona SEO - Custom 404 error page
This makes the user feel that they have in fact found the right website (even if the landing page is the 404 custom error) and they can easily naviagte to a different part of your site, rather than closing the browser. One customer kept on your site, and bounce rate down.

For E-marketing strategies in Barcelona and to expand on ideas such as the custom 404 page, please contact me.

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