How to Optimize Your 404 Error Page for SEO & Conversions

In an ideal world, you will never need a 404 error page. Links will never be broken, resources will be left in one place, and visitors will navigate your website perfectly by clicking on the links. Despite best efforts, however, 404s are still being produced.

This error is the most common one your site visitors will encounter. It basically means that the page the visitor was trying to reach could not be found. This may be because the page has been moved to a new URL or may have been removed from the website.

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While you should take steps to correct these errors on your site when you find them, it’s also important to create a 404 error page to help visitors find what they’re really looking for if they find that error. Well done, 404 pages can even be used to increase SEO and increase conversions. Here’s how.

Customers don’t want to see 404 pages, and businesses don’t want broken links, as both cases result in reduced sales opportunities.

But not all are bad news. With the right approach, companies can optimize their 404 pages to deliver value. Here are 12 best ways to create 404 error pages.

1. Position your products.

First? Use your 404 page as an opportunity to position your products effectively. Show visitors a select selection of some of your most popular offers, along with links to each product. While potential customers may not be looking for these specific articles, this approach provides a way to get visitors to your 404 page to reach active pages on your site.

One thing to keep in mind is to always include images. While product links are better than nothing, image links are much more effective at getting customers to click.

This image from fashion accessories company Steve Madden shows the focus of the product in action.

How To Optimize Your 404 Error Page For SEO: Steve Madden

2. Give user reviews.

You can also improve your 404 pages, including user reviews of your products or services. Here’s why: When users reach 404 pages, they feel naturally frustrated. They’re not sure what went wrong, but they do know that they didn’t find what they were looking for. As a result, they are already upset, reducing their chances of buying anything you sell.

However, by adding a few well-chosen customer reviews, you can reduce the aggression on the 404 page and get customers to the page they want to see (and get back on track).

3. Capture new customers.

Starting your 404 page with an apology is a solid tactic, but you can improve your 404 operations by generating new leads. Here’s how it works: Along with the “Sorry this doesn’t work” message, it provides a way for customers to contact you or offer a free demonstration of your product or service.

Create a simple one-line hook that asks users to submit their email addresses, and you’re on your way to making new connections, just like HubSpot in this example:

How To Optimize Your 404 Error Page For SEO: HubSpot

4. Make an impression.

If you can’t make them stay, at least make them laugh. From a joke by you to a funny video that may or may not have something to do with your brand, humor can make a positive impact and help customers remember your brand.

Think of a visitor coming to your 404 page, watching your funny video clip and laughing. The next time they see your brand’s ads on social media, they’re likely to remember the positive impact of your fun 404 instead of the frustration of landing on the wrong page, and maybe just revisiting you.

5. Point them in the right direction

While you may not know exactly what customers were looking for when they came to your 404 page, you can make polite conjectures. By using the data collected from your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, you can create a set of common customer search terms to help you inform your 404 design.

For example, if you are an e-commerce brand of outerwear and your most popular searches are “winter coats,” “raincoats,” and “rain boots,” link to all three categories on your 404 page to help. customers to guide them. the right direction.

6. Value of the offer.

If you can’t find what your customers want, offer them something of value. An option? exit attempt pop-ups.

While people generally don’t like pop-ups, this approach offers an exception: by creating pop-ups that appear before users leave your 404 page and offer discounts or sale prices. with a code, you can convince users that it’s worth it. a trip back to your homepage to find what they were originally looking for or to buy something else.

7. Keep it simple.

When it comes to 404 pages, don’t think too much. Of course, it explains in basic terms what went wrong and offers a potential way to help solve the problem, but don’t write paragraphs of text explaining the problem and asking for the goodwill of the customers.

Because? Because they won’t read it. Instead, streamline your apology, and then add a list of common (actually working) links to your site, such as your homepage, search page, and help pages. .

8. Provide interaction

What if you could make 404 pages more fun? Some brands have chosen to create mini video games that offer customers a few minutes of fun and then provide links to other content on the site. This is a good way to turn a negative experience into a positive one. By allowing customers to exploit aliens, you can reduce the sting of landing on a 404 page.

Kualo does this with its 404 page. By pressing the space bar, visitors can shoot aliens into space as they move across the screen in the shape of the brand logo.

How To Optimize Your 404 Error Page For SEO: Kualo

9. Take advantage of keywords.

404 pages can also help improve your search engine optimization. Here’s how, instead of just posting a short message and apologizing for your 404 page, add some of your most popular keywords along with relevant links. This helps add value to a broken page, making it something that can help users find what they are looking for.

Suppose you are a pet care company. You can include keywords like “dog daycare” or “pet service” on your 404 page along with links. In practice, this means adding a few lines of text after the 404 message, such as “Looking for our dog daycare page? Click here” or “Need the best pet service? See what we have to offer.” .

10. Put your application in front and in the center.

Another option to help increase the impact of your 404 page is to add a link to download your mobile app. Of course, it’s a bold move – visitors may not want to do anything with your app after reaching your 404 page, but if you place it the right way, it might work.

For example, you can highlight how your mobile app won’t return 404 pages, or make it clear that it’s easier for customers to find what they want with the app. Even if you do not generate a substantial amount of downloads, each application installation is one more customer on the path to the potential purchase.

11. Create a connection

If you can connect with customers, you can get them back. One way to do this is to rely on your frustration. The technology company Emailcenter did this by creating a “choose who to shoot” page that allowed visitors to decide who should be to blame for the 404 page they’re viewing. While it’s just a fun interactive joke, it helps create a connection between the customer and the company that can get them back together.

How To Optimize Your 404 Error Page For SEO: EmailCenter

12. Get social.

Last but not least? Provide links to all of your social networking sites on your 404 page. In fact, this opens the door for customers to express their concerns, but it also sets the stage for businesses to start a relationship.

If you can respond quickly to visitors’ comments as they appear, you can overcome the initial disappointment of 404 and get customers back by providing them with links to specific product pages, comment forms, or even special discounts.

Marketing focused on 404 pages

Want to increase your marketing efforts? Solid options for 404 pages include:

Search bar – A great feature is to have a search bar that appears prominently on the page. Your visitor was clearly looking for something, and even though they may not have found it in the last click, a quick search should send them in the right direction.

Navigation menu – You probably also want to include a site navigation section, so that visitors can continue browsing your site immediately, without having to go back.

Fun – Some websites like to include quirky apologies on their 404 pages. These are not entirely essential from a usability standpoint, but they can go a long way in calming a visitor who might otherwise be frustrated.

Bottom line? While it is impossible to completely avoid the dreaded 404 page, it is possible to turn this missing feature into an asset.

Given what customers may be looking for, leveraging relevant marketing data, and making sure your 404 page reflects your brand positioning, you can switch 404 pages from simple placemarks to SEO and marketing.

This post was originally published in February 2011 and has been updated to be comprehensive.

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