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404 Errors - Capitalize on mistakes

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Chapter 1: 404 Errors - Capitalize on mistakes
(by biraju, added on 07/18/01 05:36 PM)

Correct the occasional mistakes that web masters can make causing visitors to get "error" messages and never gain access to your site. Have you tried to find a document by clicking on a link provided by a search engine or by typing in an internet address familiar to you, then received a message, "ERROR 404 NOT FOUND - This document does not exists". Some people might have that problem in searching for your site. That's because your domain name is correct but the remaining address is incorrectly written by the site's webmasters, the techno savvy person who created it.
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Here's how to avoid losing visitors who get that "error" message. Ask the person who maintains your website to redirect all "ERROR 404'S" to a page where you have a statement of apology and instructions about how to get to your site or find the document they are looking for. If you are looking for a document at my website ( that doesn't exists, you will be transported to my homepage. Thus you have retain the would-be visitor to your website even-though they typed in the wrong address. This only works if they have typed in the first portion of your domain name. For example, the internet user must type in and if they cannot remember the rest of the address of the webpage all is not lost because you have provided a detour to your homepage for this special case. From your homepage they can hopefully find what they were looking for.

Ongoing research

It has come to my attention that some ISP's will reroute all ERROR 404 [aka. URL not found pages] pages to a single page on their server. Other ISP's will try to help your visitors find the page they were looking for by listing all sites hosted on their servers and then they are others who will sell advertising space on a generic error page which will work against you. So by all means, setup your site to redirect all ERROR 404 incidents [URL not found] to a page specific to your website. This will help your potential visitor find what they are looking for on YOUR site. If you ever remove webpages from your website you will know why this is of the utmost importance.
Usually an ERROR 404 page will have the following text

If you typed in the url, please check the spelling and try again.
If you followed a link, please email me the link that brought you to this page.
If you used a bookmark, click here to go to our homepage or search this site using the form below - then please update your bookmarks.

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