Use 404 Error Pages to Find Hidden Opportunities & Growth.

Written by JJ Reynolds

I run a full-time measurement marketing & analytics agency where we use data to make decisions not hopes. "Numbers Matter" & I hope you enjoy this article.

You will always run into 404 Error Pages. They can appear by typos, accidental links, misspelled words or adjusting permalinks & slugs. This is how to measure what is/isn’t happening, fix what isn’t and maybe suggest content for the future by using 404 Error Pages.

Know Your 404s and How they are happening

You can view our 404 Data Studio Tracker Here which will help walk you through our system. 

Our report does the following steps automatically, but if you would like to build your own. This is what you should look for. 

  1. What slugs (the /this url part) are users getting to. 
  2. How are they getting there?  Are they showing up from other websites or are you internally linking to them accidentally? 
  3. How many of each type of URL are people hitting? 
  4. Where are people going afterward? Are they clicking a CTA  on your 404 Error page? Or Just leaving? 

Most business owners and corporations do not utilize any designs of a 404 when in actuality they can help you move your business by pivoting to what people are looking for. 404 Error Pages are what people see when they go to a page that does not exist on your website. 

Your 404-page Error Design

Websites do not have a 404 error page design by default. You need to specify and build your own page. 

A few popular builder 404 error pages. 

As you can see, they are not too great. Many of them, like Wix, do not allow you to do anything with the page. It is Wix branded not your website branded. 

What A Good 404 Page should have. 

  1. Acknowledges that the content they are looking for doesn’t exist. 
  2. Link them to you most broadly valuable content 
  3. The ability to search *if you have content. 
View Lego’s 404 Error -> https://www.lego.com/en-us/404

Analyze your 404s.

Now that you have our Free Report for 404 Error Page Diagnosis take a look at your 404s. Are there any trends?

Problem #1: Pages that existed but moved and you can easily redirect those.

It might be that you have a bunch of people linking to old content that does not exist. If that is the case, set up redirects to make sure they find what they are looking for. 

If you are using WordPress, Redirection is a great way to monitor this. 

Mediauthentic Call To Action

Problem #2: Pages that never existed 

Sometimes people try to get smart and type in URL slugs that they think will just “work”. 

Example: 

We have a client that was a subscription-based business. They had a page with /memberships that outlined all of their pricing options.  They thought it worked great. Hardly anyone thought anything of it. 

What they didn’t know was that people were typing in website.com/pricining. USERS were looking for the /pricing page. but it didn’t exist. 

To compound the problem, the did not have a 404 error page that was designed. IT was the default WordPress “Content Not Found’ Page. 

That simple hack allowed them to increase their user experience by easily redirecting the /pricing -> /Memberships and now everyone is happy! How crazy is that? 

Its simple things like this that when you pair our 404 Error tool with simple intuition you can blend Data and Users’ best interest Which increases their happiness! 

Your Best Converting Content

If you know your numbers and you know what blog posts convert the best, “Why Not Feature those?”

Usually, people are looking for something specific when they encounter your 404 Error Page. Meaning, they are invested in the community you are serving. Add a featured post and drive your 404 Error traffic to that.

You might be surprised at what happens!

These are just a few 404 Error page hacks and we will continue to update this post as more come along!

Access The 404 Data Studio Error Report