How To Make 404 Error Correct For SEO
[This is a transcription from the Clickx Marketing Hack of the Day video series.]
Turn 404 Pages Into Lead Generation Machines
Hey guys! It’s Solomon with Clickx here. For today’s Marketing Hack of the Day, we’re actually going to turn what you might have as a 404-page to something that will actually help you generate leads!
What’s A 404 Page?
First of all, let me explain what a 404-page is. It’s an error when the server cannot find the requested page. So, maybe the URL has been updated, maybe the page has been deleted and someone forgot to do a 301 redirect, what ends up in a page that looks like this. Typically, you may not even have the styling of the website; it might be a generic page that is served by the server. So, we might have the name of the server, it depends on where you’re hosting your site, but you might have a very generic page that has nothing to do with your branding, your logo, your colors, or anything like that!
Basically, what happens is people hit the page that is a page that cannot be found on the server and they go right back to search results, or wherever they were reading the content, and they’ll just ignore that this page even happened! They want to get this out of their system as fast as possible!
Changing Site Navigation Structures Can Create A Bad User Experience If Done Poorly
This is not by any means a good experience. This is something that can get you into trouble. People may or may not even want to come back to your website, because if you delete a page on your site, any traffic that you have to that page automatically turns into a 404-page. If you change the headline of one of your blog post, immediately the old headline or the old URL that the headline had turns into a 404-page unless your CMS system actually recognizes it and redirects it. So, what you have to do is that every time you’re changing a URL for any reason, because you change your navigation structure or you change services to our company or whatever you did, you have to write a 301 redirect or else all the old traffic anywhere you might have been mentioned, maybe you have a link from Wikipedia or somewhere else; all those links will actually end up in a 404-page which is not going to help you at all!
Customize Your 404 Pages As A Company Page
I wouldn’t help you turn your 404-page into a lead generation page. Alright! Something that will actually help you to deliver the message that your company does and actually help them or give them an opportunity to convert into a lead. It’s really, really simple! So, what you have to do is talk to your web developer. If you are a web developer yourself, work on a custom 404-page and what you’re going to do in there is you’re going to have your own branding or you are going to put your logo there, maybe you have your phone number and you’re going to have a forum perhaps on the right-hand side! It’s going to look almost like a landing page. Okay! It’s not going to say a 404-page and maybe you’ll have a headline say, hey Don! What I’m sorry this is a broken page! However, I would love to solve your problem. Here’s what we do. Fill out your information or try these three links. Okay! This might help you so what this does is, it doesn’t give a bad experience to the user. Maybe they want to click on one of the links on the top and get to those pages. Maybe they want to learn more about your company, but throwing a server generic 404-page that has there’s nothing to do with your branding! It would look really ugly!
Retain Your Visitors With Retargeting Ads
Sometimes you see the “Oops!” page. Right? I mean it’s hideous! It does not help you. Over here, you could still cookie your visitors and maybe still serve them retargeting ads. You can do a lot with this. Alright! You can do a ton in fact you know, maybe you have an on-demand webinar or an e-book something that you want to download, maybe there’s a video! I don’t know what you want to put on it, but you can make this any which way you want! We have a platform that’s called Clickx and it actually shows you what’s wrong with your website! So, we audit it every week and we show that on the platform. Here you have 404-pages and you want to get rid of them.
Now, in the event that somebody didn’t get a chance to fix them or maybe their new employee, they didn’t have the rules update, they’re just learning things and they accidentally break it having this as a backup is a good solution! I’m not saying go and get rid of pages and just serve them the landing page. No! I’m talking about actually retaining that visitor rather than losing them and never come back! In fact if a person comes to your 404-page from Google and they go right back, what happens is that Google recognized that this is a 404-page and actually get D-indexed for that particular search results! So, what happens is this actually hurts you! It would never help you!
In this case, there might still be some engagement even though this is a custom 404-page, they clicked onto this link, they clicked onto another link and Google recognized that this person there had most sessions on this page! They visited several pages and they didn’t bounce right back to Google! So, essentially I’m asking you to create a headline, put a call to action, maybe there’s a form and ask the visitor to learn how you can get XYZ widgets by filling out the form or something like that or lead them to a couple of different links and rather than having them freak out and leave. Right! That’s a really bad experience!
Start Fixing Your Website To Generate Better End Results
So, that’s my hack of the day. I really hope you got some insights. Obviously, everybody has this mistake! I’ve never come across a website that actually doesn’t have any 404-pages unless they’re actually working on it all the time and they have a whole team around it, but this is something that you see on a regular basis, but this I don’t see it on a regular basis! So, I want to make sure that everybody’s aware of this and you can take advantage of it and in the event that you actually have broken pages you can get a better result at better end result than actually having a poor experience!
I hope you got some insight from this episode of Marketing Hack of the Day. See you in the next one!
Solomon Thimothy is the Co-founder of Clickx, a Chicago-based white label digital marketing platform. He has been in the agency space for over a decade and has helped 100s of entrepreneurs build 7 and 8 figure agencies. He helps agency owners on a 1:1 basis to scale sales and fulfillment. Follow him on twitter @sthimothy