Chances are that if someone visits a bad address on your website (it could be a mis-spelled URL, a page that’s since been deleted, etc), they’ll see a 404 page.
It’s simply a catchall page that visitors are directed to when a page URL is invalid. And most webmasters do nothing with this page.
However, it is a page that can be monetized. Why not put an ad on the page for some product related to your niche? You likely won’t get many sales, but you’ll get zero sales from a standard 404 page.
You could also turn it into an informational page with links directing visitors to other important parts of your site. Or you could simply display a nice, pretty 404 error graphic.
To see the 404 page on your own domain, type in your domain name followed by some gibberish; e.g. http://www.yourdomain.com/kjsad98wsd
Here’s what mine looks like:
Pretty useless but at least the page retains my site’s formatting and the visitor isn’t totally left in limbo.
But the page would be more useful if it could provide something of value to the visitor.
Configuring a 404 Page
This solution is for WordPress sites only and, naturally, it involves installing a plugin onto your site – in this case the free 404page plugin.
This plugin can make any page on your site the default 404 page.
But I recommend that you create a dedicated 404 page. You create this in the Page editor (not the Post editor), just like you’d create any other page, Just give it a recognizable name like “My 404 Page”. I prefer to include my site name in the page title, so for this site, I named my page “Internet Marketing Strategies 404 Page”.
The reason for this is that the page title is displayed on the 404 page when someone lands on it.
Next, go to the 404page plugin settings and select the page you want to use as your 404 page from the list of pages on your site. You’ll find the 404 Error Page settings option on the WordPress Appearance menu.
In this image, I’ve selected the 404 page I created from the dropdown selection:
There are 5 advanced settings, but you shouldn’t need to change any of them, so just click the Save Changes button.
Once you’ve saved the change, the Test 404 error button should become enabled. Click that to see the revised 404 page on your site. Here’s mine at this stage:
It has the correct page title but is blank at this point.
Creating Your 404 Page
From there, it’s simply a matter of editing your 404 page and adding whatever content and offers you want to it.
Here’s what mine looks like now that I’ve added some content to it:
I’ve added a link back to this post onto the 404 page for some SEO benefit and listed 3 useful products for visitors.
The first is free, the second one is only $1 and the third is a product for $29.95 that’s of use to any affiliate marketer.
Finally, I added an optin form for my newsletter to try and scoop up some subscribers.
It should give you some ideas about what you can do on your own 404 pages.
Now that was easy, wasn’t it? 🙂
Filed under: Website Building