Optimizing Error Pages for Conversions

In an ideal world, companies would never need an error page because links would never break, visitors can seamlessly navigate around a website, and every resource would stay in one place. Nevertheless, despite every company’s best efforts, an error can still happen. The most common type of error that a website visitor generally encounters is a 404 error. This numbered error basically means that the page that a visitor was trying to look at, can’t be found. That could be because the page has been removed from the website, or because it’s been moved to a new URL. Although companies should be taking specific steps to correct every such error on their websites whenever they’re found, it’s also important for them to create a separate 404 error page that’s going to help website visitors find what they’re actually looking for when they end up in countering this error. In fact, when done right, these types of errors can be used to boost conversions and increase SEO.


Most customers don’t want to come across an error page, and most companies also don’t want to have broken links on their website since they result in reduced opportunities for sales. Fortunately, error pages don’t have to mean bad news all the time. One such effort that companies can make to turn a negative into a positive is to use their error pages as an opportunity to position their products. On the 404 page, companies can show their website visitors a selection of some of their most popular solutions, and a link that’s going to take them to each solution. Although these website visitors might not be looking for those specific solutions, with this approach companies have a chance to lead the website visitors away from the error page and onto an active page. One thing that’s important to remember with this strategy is that companies should always include images with their solutions and links because they are a lot more effective at getting the website visitors to click through to those links.


While a business might not know exactly what the website visitor was looking for one day ended up on an error page, it’s relatively easy to make educated guesses. To do that, companies should use every data that they collect from their customer relationship management (CRM) and analytic tools to create a selection of common search terms that customers are using, which can then be used to inform the design of the error page.


When it comes to error pages there’s no need to make things too complicated. Of course, companies should explain to their website visitors in simple terms what went wrong that they landed on an error page, and then provide them with a potential way to solve the problem. However, there’s no need for companies to write long explanations of the problem to stay in the customers’ good graces. This is because most customers won’t read that explanation, which means instead of writing an apology on the error page, companies should provide a list of common links to various pages of their website such as the search page, homepage, or the help page.

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