Error 404? Use it in your marketing!

You need about 3 min. to read this article.

A 404 error and a message about a non-existent page next to it is the last thing we want to see after long minutes of wandering around a search engine looking for an answer to a burning question. Are we able to disenchant this annoying surprise and turn it into a marketing tool that works to our advantage? Absolutely!

Turn website error into a phenomenal sales tool

A site with an “error 404” or “error 404” message is a web page that appears when users try to access a broken link or a page that no longer exists. Ideally, it should never be needed, but accidents do happen – sometimes pages are entered incorrectly and sometimes pages are deleted. When we click on an empty link, most often a big 404 error information sign and a slogan saying something like “Oops! This page doesn’t exist” appears in front of our eyes.

Error 404 and SEO

Subpage errors are a natural phenomenon and it’s really hard to get rid of them completely, especially when we are constantly working on improving our site and updating our content. When thinking about how a 404 affects SEO, we need to know that it will not lower our ranking position, provided that the broken subpage is accompanied by an appropriate message and a link to a replacement page.

A skilled marketer will immediately sense an interesting web space here, which with a little work and creativity can be transformed from annoying and discouraging to inspiring. What are some ways to do this?

  1. Quench annoyance with humor

Broken pages happen even to the best sites, and it’s not a reason to be ashamed, but an opportunity to make fun of yourself. Using humor pulls the user away from the negative experience and allows them to get to know us from a distanced, less formal, and more human side.

  1. Explanation

In a situation when we were looking for specific information and came across an empty website, the last thing we want to see is a short phrase about an error. It is worth using the space to explain to the customer what the error is about and how to find the content they are interested in. This approach is a sign of respect towards the user and his time.

  1. Pointing in a different direction

The main problem with a standard 404 page is that the only link (if there is any) leads directly to the main page of the whole website, and the user is usually not interested in it. That’s why it’s a great idea to point him in a new direction, so that eventually his need will be satisfied, if not completely then at least partially.

  1. Enabling reporting

If we give the user an opportunity to report a non-working subpage, we actually help ourselves, because it happens that without it we would still be living without being aware of the existence of a faulty link. Additionally, such an option gives the client a sense of empowerment and control, which he lost when confronted with an empty page. Instead, once reported, we can redirect them directly to our sales page.

  1. Taking care of aesthetics

Almost everyone knows about the importance of first impressions. Base 404 error messages are most often crude, not very aesthetic and simply hurt the eyes, so – in order to make the user’s encounter with the annoying site more pleasant – it is worth planning its friendly, intriguing and harmonizing with the rest of the site appearance.

Main Photo: Polina Zimmerman/pexels.com

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