The power of 404 pages is often underestimated. “Not found” pages are of course not the #1 conversion generation pages, but you should really invest some thoughts in creating reasonable 404 pages instead of displaying a standard “Ooops, we’re sorry.”. Help your lost visitors on your 404 page. Here are the 6 reasons why you should do that and offer automated recommendations on these pages.
Which Traffic can Result on 404 Pages?
There are lot’s of possibilities why your visitors are landing on a “not found” page:
- Old links from external sites
- Missing redirects for old pages
- Old SEA links e.g. in Google AdWords
- Wrong internal links
- Deployments of new versions
- Partial downtimes of your website
Whatever reason, it is lot’s of effort to solve all of them and avoid 404 visits completely. That’s why you should really invest some time in optimizing the 404 page, because it will probably be displayed to a significant part of visitors.
Reason 1: 404 Pages Often Have Lot’s of Traffic
Especially when you have an online shop and generate paid traffic e.g. through Google AdWords or Bing Ads, it is always possible, that you buy traffic for product pages which are already offline because the products are e.g. out of stock. The product feeds for the mentioned paid services are normally updated only once a day, but many online shops are updating their product catalog much more frequently. This can result in 404 pages for at least some hours a day for very expensive traffic.
Reason 2: Help Your Lost Customers
When visiting a “not found” page, most of your customers will be irritated. They intended to visit a specific page, but it is gone. Therefore it is very important to help your lost customers not only by displaying them that they are lost. This is what most 404 pages do and your customers will be even more irritated and the chance that they will leave your website is very high. Therefore you should help your customers by saying “Sorry” and propose next steps by displaying relevant recommendations.
Reason 3: Don’t Interrupt the Browsing Experience
404 pages are normally visited as first page or somewhere in the middle of the customer journey of your website visitors. This customer journey must be as smooth as possible to convince a potential customer of buying or a visitor to stay even longer. Therefore “not found” pages should not look like “sorry pages”, but also contain relevant content for the current visitor. The customer has to think: “Oh no, the product I’d like to visit is gone, but hey, I already see great matching similar ones. Let’s move on and buy something different”.
Reason 4: Help Your Broken Links
Broken links are nearly unavoidable. In online shops you will always have products that a suddenly out of stock and in blogs there will always be external broken links to your website. Of course you should repair all these broken links with redirects, but you should also care for the time in between fixing the causing issue and when the issue started. A great 404 page is one perfect possibility to mitigate the issue as broken links will always occur.
Reason 5: Convert Traffic on 404 Pages
Why shouldn’t 404 pages be conversion optimization pages? As written above, there are several reasons why 404 pages can become lot’s of traffic. So, you should conversion optimize it like e.g. your home page or any other landing page. Add automated and relevant recommendations, beautiful teasers and images and e.g. coupon codes. This will convince your customers to continue and improve the conversion rate of formerly lost visitors. A great chance to increase your overall performance and to not lose all the traffic landing on 404 pages.
Reason 6: Automation vs. Manual Updates
A great reason for recommendations on 404 pages is the automation possibility. It is easily possible to keep your 404 pages up-to-date like your home page, but normally you don’t have additional time to also update your 404 pages manually. Therefore automated recommendations or product recommendations are perfect for keeping “not found” pages current and investing no time in doing so. The recommendations update and improve automatically, and your customers always get displayed perfectly fitting proposals.
Summary: Take action!
Invest some time in your “not found” pages. The integration of automated recommendations to cross-link your customers back to your website is a great possibility to do so. This can be done once and afterwards all your different 404 pages display relevant content to your visitors – no matter where they came from.
With Recolize you can easily integrate several recommendation widgets on 404 pages. Many of our customers are displaying two widgets: one with personalized recommendations for the current visitor and the second containing last viewed products to improve the browsing experience of the customer.