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Quick and Easy Custom 404 Page

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Make Your Own Quick and Easy Customized 404 Page
by Ed Duvall

By design, the server that hosts' your web site delivers a
404 Error / Page Not Found when a surfer clicks on a link
that the server cannot find or something else unexpected
happens. The most common error page is the HTTP 404
"Not found: The requested URL/whatever.html was not
found on this server."

This generally happens when a person clicks on a link
for page that has been removed, renamed or otherwise
changed.

Click on the link below to see my own custom 404 Error page:
http://www.cashway.com/aintnosuchpage.htm (This link is
not active and will direct you to my custom 404 Error page.)

What happens to your web visitor who got that error message?
Generally speaking they're off faster than a "speeding bullet"
looking for the information they were seeking - probably to a
different website. That's something you really don't want to
have happen and it can be prevented with a custom 404 error
page that gives them options on the error page that will tell
them how to find what they were looking for.

So the answer is? Create your own custom 404 Error page
that suggests other resources on your site and then helps
redirects that person to them.

In essence you're capturing traffic that you had, but lost and
didn't know it, and keeping that visitor by helping them find
what they need and possibly turn them into a buyer for your
product or service later on.

But "I don't have the time or know how to make a custom
404 page", you say.

Well good news - it's not as hard as you think. If you have
about 30 minutes and your server is a Apache or Unix
web server then it's virtually a snap to do.

** Your Custom 404 Page Design **

In my opinion your custom 404 error page should provide at least
these four components:

- A simple statement that the requested URL was not
found on your site.
- A brief description of some of the most common mistakes
that could have lead the visitor to the missing page.
- A search box to direct the user to look for similar pages
on your site.
- And maybe a "plug" for one of your Free products or services.

You can of course add other components like simple java script
code for date & time and IP address display, etc. if you really
want to impress someone with your technical wizardry.

Your page also should carry the look and feel of your web site,
so you should include your header or footer or both so it is
clearly branded as yours. You may wish to include some other
links for your site that lead visitors to other pages you may want
them to visit.

Here are the basic steps:

The simplest method is to create your new custom page,
then upload it to your site in the same folder where your
home page is located. Servers vary in their requirements
but generally have the same basic requirements.

For my server the page must have a specific name for it to
function properly as my custom 404 error page. You'll also
need to do a simple edit in your .htaccess file.

If you don't have an .htaccess file you need to create one
in the same folder where your home page is stored, usually
located in your root directory (in some cases, the file may
already exist; on servers with FrontPage extensions this file
is automatically created). It only sounds hard but is a simple
edit to do.

To edit the .htaccess file use your text editor or server editing
features to add the following command:

ErrorDocument 404 /filename.html
(where "filename.html" is replaced by the name of the actual
file you want to appear as your Custom 404 Error page.)

You could, if you prefer, to insert your home page when a 404
error occurs. In that case, the correct command to add to your
.htaccess would be:

ErrorDocument 404 /index.html

The above example assumes your home page is named
index.html and that you want to redirect the peron to your
home page. If not, replace it with whatever name you are
using for your home page instead.

If you use Microsoft Internet Explorer and the option to Show
friendly HTTP error messages is enabled, the file size of your
custom error page must be no less than 512 bytes to function
properly. Otherwise, the program will still show a generic message.

There you have it.

Design your page, follow the two simple steps above and you'll
soon have your own custom 404 error page that will capture lost
visitors and keep them on your site.

One final note - before you start setting up your own custom
error page check the FAQ or knowledgebase for your website's
server for the specific requirements to making sure your new
page works.

```````````````````
Ed Duvall copyright 2005. Inside information to promote
your website, increase visitors and ezine subscribers we
recommend you visit http://www.cashway.com and
http://www.instantnettraffic.com Publishers reprint this
article as is and with this Resource Box in tact.
```````````````````

 

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