Blogger recently introduced 404 error pages. Instead of showing a common ‘page not found’ dialogue in Blogger, it started to show error pages in blogs. Designing a 404 page is easy. But the selection of contents is very difficult.
Why to create an effective 404 error page
So we checked our website for broken links and corrected everything. What is the need of a 404 page then?. Do we actually need it? Well, yes. Some other blogs are linking your post and you do not have a post in that address, there arises a broken link. Maybe it is because of the linked post URL is not correct. But we cannot check this using any tool because who the hell knows which blog is linking to your content. If you know it, you cannot edit their blog. So customizing 404 page is important.
Contents of an effective 404 error page
A 404 error page should contain contents which are useful to the reader. They are in that page because of a wrong URL. So we should bring them to the correct path. We need to put right ingredients in our page to bring them correct page and also we should express our apology.
Tell your reader that he is in error page
Try to know the source of error
Help your reader find what he looking for
List your Important posts
The reader may not be in a mood to use your search box. Using a list of most popular/high trafficked articles may help you to get him back to your blog. The disadvantage of this method is we do not know what is he looking for. Maybe he is interested in your popular posts. If you are writing a particular niche, chances of clicking in popular post is more.
Give your Important Page links
We should tell the reader that he is in an error page. If you are not mentioning that this is an error page, he may think we are trying to cheat him by giving wrong contents. Do not try to blame your visitor for clicking in broken link. We may use some humor to lighten the mood and tell what happened. Using a picture depicting 404 error is also recommended. Do not try to redirect immediately to any page because readers will not understand 404 error.
If you want to know the source of broken link, give a link to feedback form from this page. Noble readers will report you about the broken link. Using a full page contact form in this page is not a good option. Instead, use a link to existing contact form.
Using a search box will help your reader to find easily what is he looking for. You may have a search box in your header or sidebar. Instead of recommending to use that, provide another search box in your 404 page. So they can easily search and find the right post.
Giving links to your important pages such as home page, sitemap etc will help reader to explore your blog.