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404 Errors

Websites are constantly being changed and updated with files being moved or deleted - it is inevitable that you'll forget to update links from time to time. When that happens and a visitor clicks on an outdated / broken link they will encounter the dreaded 404 error page.

A survey by the 404 Research Lab concluded that more than three quarters of visitors will make no effort to find a missing page or inform the webmaster should they encounter a 404 error page. Instead they will simply go elsewhere. By customising your 404 error page you can keep visitors on your site.

Standard 404 error mesages are not written in plain, easily understandable, English and can be difficult to understand for non-technical visitors - in fact they can appear to be blaming the visitor for the error. The actual cause of the error is never specified but a vague general error message is given. This means that specific steps to rectify the problem are not provided.

Changing your server's default 404 error page shows your visitors that you have at least thought about the problem. A good helpful 404 error page will include links to your homepage, a sitemap, a site search facility, and an email link so that visitors can inform you of the broken link.

You may want to make your 404 page funny - there are some great example about. Making your visitors laugh (smile anyway) will reduce their stress levels and increase the chances that they will stick around and have a look at your site. Enjoy the following links.

http://www.sendcoffee.com/minorsage/404.html

http://www.plinko.net/404/area404.asp

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