As I was browsing around collecting the screen shots for this post I was surprised to see how many popular websites have neglected to optimize their 404 error pages.
While there are not very many people that get lost on the net and end up on a page that does not exist, there are still ones that do. What happens when they arrive to one of these pages? The visitor will either hit the back button to return to where they came from or they will hit their browser’s home page button, either way they end up leaving your website.
There are ways to improve the bounce rate if a site simply by optimizing the error pages. Instead of saying “Oops… Page does not exist.” you can say “Oops, the page you were trying to reach is not here but please take a look at other information that might interest you” and have a category or article list below. Instead of leaving right away, your visitor will have something to look and click on instead of just an error page.
Here is the list of 26 of some of the popular websites’ error pages.
We’ll start with the WhiteHouse.gov. It has a nice, clean error page with information on how to procede.
This one is pretty basic and with the amount of business, visitors and items they sell, I think they could have done a lot better. It would also probably raise their sales.
Same for Ask.com, this page could have been more. They could have a few recommended categories or even ads or something to click on.
I can see that they put a little more effort into this one. At least there is a suggestion to go to the homepage.
Wow, Barnes & Noble really surprised me with this one. Nothing… Not even a logo.
Compete.com has a good error page but just like the others, it could be more.
Here is a good error page. This being a blog, it is surrounded by sidebars, which give plenty to click on. Also the text of the page suggests next moves for the visitor.
Dan’s site just sends you to the homepage instead of showing an error page. This is actually pretty clever. The user will never know that the page could not be found, unless of course they were looking for something specific.
Nice and full error page here. Lots of clicking choices.
Very basic… Could be more I think.
impressive. Could add an arrow and say “Try again” or something. I doubt anyone would mind with Google though.
This is a nice error page. It even asks “Are you looking for any of these LinkedIn features?”.
See? Google and others could have done this too. MSN did a good job on their error page.
Yaa, not good. If not for any other type of site but for eCommerce online retailer, a full, optimized error page is a must.
Just like this … very good error page.
And this one too. Very good error page.
Darren knows…, good error page.
Aaron has his error page just forward to this sales page. Why not? Perfect!
Good error page on Rand’s SEOmoz too. Suggested links on the page.
Jeremy’s blog suggests to try to search for something else. This is also a good way to keep a visitor on the site.
Another good error page. Google Ads and all.
Tamar’s error page is loaded with choices. Good one.
Lol, does Twitter even need one? I guess it does, if user’s account no longer exists. This should probably do OK, but more choices is better.
I of course followed suit and had mine done with a list of most popular an recent posts.
Yahoo’s error page is good but I really liked what MSN did on theirs.
More Error 404 Resources From the blogosphere:
SmashingMagazine: Wanted: Your 404 Error Pages
SmashingMagazine: 404 Error Pages: Reloaded
Francesco Mugnai: The 100 most funny and unusual 404 error pages
DzineBlog: 36 Cool Custom 404 Error Pages
HongKiat: 49 Nice And Creative Error 404 Pages
404ErrorPages: 404 Error Pages
SEOmoz: Get Creative With Your 404 Error Pages
So… have you even taken a look at your Error 404 page? I think you should. It will be a good investment in the long run.
Share with us your thoughts on error pages.