Custom Error Page 404 - Best Practices

- Thursday, June 17, 2010

A 404 Error or Page Not Found Error is a standard HTTP Response Code that appears on your Internet browser when the page you requested cannot be found. It is possible that the typed address is incorrect, or the page no longer exists. 404 Error's can be blamed on the website visitor or the Webmaster.

Custom Error Page 404 - Best Practices

A Custom Error Page is a placeholder for web pages that fail to load when a human visitor and/or a search engine spider tries to view a webpage. Improperly configured Error Pages may also produce duplicate content issues by producing the same content across unique URLs.

Report a 404 Response Code: Make sure your server responses back with a 404 Response Code and NOT a 200 Response Code (or any other Response Code) for all URL which doesn't exist in your website.

Robots META Tag 'noindex, follow': You can use <META> 'noindex, follow' tag, inside <head>...</head> section on the Error Page to tell robots not to index the page, but follow the links from the page, which should will your website navigation link (header, footer, top navigation, left navigation, right navigation etc).

<meta name="robots" content="noindex, follow">

Unique Title Tag: Use a unique title tag different from the rest of the title tags on your website.

  • Sorry, the page you are looking for doesn't exist.
  • Page Not Found - 404 Error.
  • The page you requested was not found.
  • Oh, Snap! Error 404!
  • Sorry, the page you requested could not be found.

Normal Crawlable Navigation: The Custom 404 Error Page should look like an error page, but it should still look like your website. By which I mean the error page should have normal navigation of your website (header, footer, top navigation, left navigation etc).

Do NOT Use Any Form of Redirection: It's possible to automatically redirect a 404 error to another page, but that is not good for your SEO as search engines will not remove that Error URL from its index.

Do NOT Use Canonical Tag: Using a Canonical URL tag in Error will create a serious URL confusion for search engines. A homepage link in canonical URL tag of 404 Error page

<link rel="canonical" href="" /> 
will make no sense and confuse the search engines.

About the Author

Author Joydeep Deb

is a Senior Digital Marketer and Project Manager with 13+ years of experience in Digital Marketing, Lead Generation, Online Brand Management, Marketing Campaigns, Project Management, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), PPC, eMail Marketing, Web Analytics, Web Technologies, Web Design and Development.

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