That beautiful website you worked so hard on and checked 12 times for glitches before launching holds a sleeping saboteur. For reasons unknown and mysterious, what once worked will break. And you don't even have to be in the room.
That perfect image you finally found for your best blog post this month will, instead of the sun glinting on the sea, appear with a blank rectangle framing a question mark. No sun. No sea. Fail. Broken links, missing images, videos that won't play, and products you no longer offer but live on your site all have one thing in common: they drive people away from you, but first, they annoy them.
One way to soothe the sting of those frustrations is to get creative with your 404 or "error, page not found" page. Do you know what yours looks like right now? If you do, is it branded? If yes, you get an A for effort - and there is more to do.
The goal of the 4040 error page is to assuage and apologize - sort of - for something that could be your fault. They also could have typed the URL in wrong, but let's discard our need to be right just this once.
The seeker has reached an impasse and you have the chance to show them an alternative route to enlightenment. You'll be the hero of the moment!
Here are 5 things your 404 pages can do - the first two are musts.
Speaking of broken links, here are two services that will detect broken links and other potential problems: Link Patrol, which is priced as a one-time fee, and Screaming Frog SEO Spider, which has a free and paid version.
Those do not affiliate links and I have not used either, but I am going to go with Link Patrol because for $50 to crawl my site and update-check it every time I add something for one year, it's a bargain.
Let's wow and love on those who seek to learn more about us and our services, not drive them mad. Things will break and servers will go down. By taking the time to be a wee bit entertaining, we are making the broken world a better place.
Gregory Anne Cox is a free-spirited entrepreneur who offers marketing in a fashion without using tired and boring content but a new fresh approach getting away from "Squishy Language" From becoming a freelance writer in NYC, to opening her own restaurant in San Diego, she is also a world-renown author. Her most recent publications are "Everything is Food Journal" & "Your Genes Do Not Determine The Size of Your Jeans". Gregory now specializes in Online copy assessment, Done-For-You and Speaker, and Engagement Services. http://bemoremarketable.com
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