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Tips on Creating a Custom 404 Error Page

Tips on Creating a Custom 404 Error Page

No matter how hard you are trying, you can hardly avoid 404 error pages. Among all the mistakes that drive visitors away, a 404 error page takes the first place. When people land on the page, the most possible thing they are going to do is leaving your site and finding another one. Thus, creating a custom 404 error page that gives choices and information to customers matters a lot to successful websites.

The Causes of 404 Pages

There will be a 404 error when the server cannot find the particular page. Generally speaking, there are 3 cases to cause this frustration: not install mod_rewrite, a change in permalink, and wrong code in index.php or search.php files.


  • Mod_rewrite – To let your permalink working, you need to make sure mod_rewrite is successfully installed on your server. Thus, if a 404 error page appears, the first thing to do is checking whether there is anything wrong with mod_rewrite.
  • Wrong Code in Index.php or Search.php – Any wrong code in these files can also bring invalid pages or addresses.
  • A Change in Link – Think about that if the place your link to have changed, of course, people can’t find the former one.

In addition to know what reason causes a 404 page, you should also take effective measures to the problem. In the following, we guide to create a custom 404 error page, which comes with personalized design and special information, helping to retain visitors and guide them to other pages.

Tips on Creating a Custom 404 Error Page

Even if knowing the causes of the errors, you can’t guarantee to remove 404 pages all the time. When it occurs, you need to carefully design that page and therefore maintain visitors as many as possible. We are going to give you some suggestions that make the page attractive and interesting.

Create a Search Blank

Search BlankThe original 404 error page is not interesting at all. It only makes people disappointing and want to leave. They may regard you as an irresponsible site manager and never come back again. Therefore, you need to show your responsibility at the first place. Creating a search bar for Google or any other search engine is a good choice, which let people seek the information on the page.

Keep It Familiar

When visitors are brought to the 404 error page, they may believe that they have left the former website. Thus, you need to give them hints that indicate they are still on your website. You can make a banner that contains the logo of your site or write several lines of explanations from the respect your site.

Proper Pictures

Proper PicturesActually, it is the website manager to be blamed when the error page appears. Accordingly, visitors need an appropriate explanation for the mistake. More specifically, they need an apology. Since web owners can’t be at the spot, a picture delegating them is necessary. It is fine whether the image is a real people photo or cartoon but it should have sad expressions. Only in this way can people see your sincere apology.

Design with Proper Background

It is rather upset when visitors go to a black and white world from a colorful one. Thus, create the page with colorful and eye-catching background. The look and feel should remain the same as the rest of your website. Note that, you’d better choose a proper but not dazzle one.

Offer Some Links

It is considerate for visitors if there are some links on the error page. Except the search blank, you can add links that guide people to your website home page. Besides, you can also give links to the most popular posts, the most commented posts, the latest posts, or more. With the insertion of these links, your website can be useful for visitors. It is a win-win situation where people can get what they want without leaving your site.

Broken Links Report

Broken links do harm to user experience and SEO rankings. With a great number of articles included in your website, you have trouble fixing the broke links timely. Make use of broken links checkers and allow visitors to report broken links on the 404 error page.

Prevent 404 pages from being indexed

All the things you have done is to make 404 page more useful and beautiful. A better user experience will come through a custom 404 page. But at the time time, you probably want to prevent the page from being indexed. In this case, it is required that the server should return an actual 404 HTTP status code.


Lucy has been a very experienced SEOer, technical writer, web developer, c# developer since 2002. Now she owns a startup in San Francisco, CA, focusing on running a couple of blogs to share knowledge and experience with global readers and deliver exceptional results to global sponsors by leveraging the power of Internet.