Well how often is it that when you visit a website through Google, or some other external source, and the link is not found, but you really wanted to see that page, or that article. I know it happens often, and most of the time webmasters tend to switch their permalink structure, or some thing of that sort which causes this, but due to an unoptimized 404 page the visitor end up leaving the site, but now you can keep your visitor by following the certain tricks I describe below.
Well to tell you the truth, this post was not initially my idea. This was started by David Shaw at Blogging Tips in which he used two good examples of the site that does it and two bad examples of sites that have very unoptimized 404 pages. Guess where Balkhis was? Yup it was in the bad one……Good thing that I found out the same day this was posted, and worked on the fixes immidiately, so not many people got to see my unoptimized 404 pages, but It made me realize something… Eventhough I got negative publicity, It was still publicity, and I actually want to Thank David Shaw before I go onto writing this post for pointing out problems in Balkhis because due to his feedback, I no longer have an unoptimized 404 page, and I am sure when he found Balkhis, he must’ve heard about it some where which makes me feel good that this small blog is now becoming known in the blogosphere.
Let me tell you Why David Shaw thought my website was a bad example.
This page does not offer anything to keep the visitor on the site in any way, just a short message to acknowledge that the page does not exist then some ads to send the user to another site.
Well I worked on to Improve my 404 pages and you can see it right here. Preview my optimized 404 Page
Ok While David gave some good examples the site’s pages contain exactly what I have on Balkhis but a little less… I found that he really didn’t go into showing every single thing except for just pointing the users to a Plugin of Alex King that will let you track the amount of times a user hit 404 on your website.
Well since he only mentioned go check your template for a 404 page, or some other template, I will share what I have done.
I opened up my index.php file
I found these tags <?php endwhile; else: ?> <?php endif; ?>
In between these tags, I added all the things that I wanted to add, and as you can see I have Archives pages on my 404 page which are by the way no-index so no duplicate content.
But I have alot more than just that. Features I have on my 404 page (For now because I will update this)
Important Keywords (aka Tags)
How did I get them there?
For Pages, I put this code: <?php wp_list_pages(‘title_li=<h2>By Pages</h2>’); ?>
For Archives, I put this code: <?php wp_get_archives(‘type=monthly’); ?>
For Categories, I put this code: <?php wp_list_cats(); ?>
For Tags sorted by list: <?php wp_tag_cloud(‘smallest=8&largest=12&unit=pt&
I have not installed Alex’s plugin on the site to test it, but I don’t think this will hurt the site in anyways, but It will surely help it. I hope I was clear enough in the above post, so if you have any questions feel free to comment.