Can 404 errors lead to negative impact on your site’s ranking? Yes, it can. But there’s more to 404 than that. If you run a website or blog, it is important that you create a custom 404 page. This can help direct visitors who encounter this error on your website.
What is a 404 error message?
A 404 or Not found error message is an HTTP response code. As per HTTP status code blocks, 400 block shows client errors or it means that a page was not found. 404 error is a result of the requested page not being found. It is usually accompanied by a message as “page not found” or “The page you are trying to access does not exist”.
They are not all bad as they might be a result of an error on the user’s side too. For instance, if a user mistypes the URL or requesting for a page that does not actually exist. In this case, Google does not penalize you if you served a 404 error as the cause is a ‘bad URL’.
Watch this video to see what John Mueller says is the best way to deal with 404 errors.
How to find the 404 errors on your website?
You need to use the Google Search Console to identify these errors on your website. They are listed under Crawl Errors as soft 404s and “Not Found”. If you think that your page is incorrectly flagged as soft 404, you need to use the URL inspection tool to find the most recently indexed version of that page.
Clever error pages that we found!
With some effort in crafting the right 404 page design, these brands are able to re-engage their users so they continue exploring the site. Here are a few of them:
Why you should create custom 404 pages?
As you would have observed, adding an interactive element even on your error page gives your site’s visitors an action item in order to find the page they were looking for or find an option to help. This increases time on page and reduces bounce rates and both are important from the perspective of Google. Cracking a smile in an otherwise frustrating situation, your user’s are sure to do that with creative error pages. More importantly, it helps them find the information they're looking for. Here are some suggestions for creating an effective 404 page (as per Google):
- Use friendly and inviting language to let your user know that the page they’re looking for cannot be found.
- Add links to your most popular pages as well as a link to your home page.
- Your webserver needs to return an actual 404 HTTP status code when a missing page is requested, to prevent 404 pages from being indexed by the search engines.
- Ensure that you have an option for users to report broken links.
We hope that this post has helped you understand what a 404 Error Page is and how important is to manage it.
You’re probably thinking leads and sales when you’re asked about the digital marketing metrics that are tracked for brand growth. As websites continue to become an inseparable part of the consumer’s journey, the need to measure digital marketing success also increases. However, with the large amount of data available, choosing the right type of metric to monitor can be a daunting task. The good news is that we have shortlisted few key metrics that are applicable to pretty much every type of digital marketing campaign.
Here are the top 5 essential metrics that you should have your finger on the pulse of.
Traffic (sessions): Simply put, website traffic refers to the visitors who visit a website. These “visits” also known as sessions measure online business effectiveness at attracting your target audience. This metric helps to gauge how well your marketing efforts are working and it also helps you retrieve an overall snapshot of your site’s performance. While there isn’t a maximum number of a set range for this metric, it is recommended that you find comparisons in the benchmarking report in Google Analytics. The important channels to watch are Direct (when people type the URL to visit the site), Referral (when people visit the site from another website), Organic (when people searched for a keyword on a search engine and landed on the site) or Social media. For best results, you should aim to achieve a balance between the various traffic sources. In the event of traffic from a single source, any change to the strategy or source is likely to impact your website traffic and bottom line.
Conversion rate: Conversion rate indicates the visitors who have completed any goal on your website. The success of your marketing campaigns depends on the conversion rate. Sure the number of leads that you have generated online matters but do you know what matters more? Calculating cost per lead per channel helps you identify the most important lead generation channels and invest in them accordingly. If you have an Ecommerce store, you should consider the impact the online traffic has on your online transactions. With access to a tool such as Google Analytics, you can find your Ecommerce conversion rate by setting up Ecommerce tracking using a few simple steps as listed here. You can look at the various sources of traffic and the conversion rates from these sources. Are they interacting with your content and are they providing value, when they visit - are the pertinent questions to ask when you are trying to ascertain your digital marketing success.
Bounce rate: As defined by Google, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session. It is common knowledge that a high bounce rate is bad and a low bounce rate is good. If you have observed the bounce rate in the overview report of Google Analytics, you should know that this is a site-wide bounce rate and not for a particular section or page. It is calculated by dividing the average number of bounces across all pages by total number of visits across all pages within a time period. If you are wondering, what bounce rate is good, you should note that there are various variables that determine a “good” bounce rate for your site. You can set up benchmarking in Google Analytics or read the bounce rate benchmarks as available here to gain a better understanding of your website’s bounce rate performance.
Social media metrics: The return on social media investment still exists as an elusive part of the marketing puzzle for a number of businesses that seek to capitalize on the eyeballs that spend billions of minutes on these platforms each day. Is social media ROI attainable? Of course, it is when you have set up your social media initiatives from the outset in a manner such that you are tracking the right metrics during the buyer’s journey. Defining and measuring specific customer behaviors, as mentioned below helps you climb out of the vortex of vanity metrics with dubious ties to revenue.
Finally! The fifth metric that is absolutely essential to determine your digital marketing success is the SEO metric. You want your website to rank for keywords relevant to your niche. But, how do you determine if people are visiting your site as a result of your SEO efforts? The Google Search Console and Google Analytics are invaluable tools in this regard, they can help track traffic by landing pages, top-ranking keywords for your website, mobile traffic (this is super important, considering 60% of all online searches come from mobile phones!)
To sum up, you’ll need to constantly evaluate the position and success of your marketing strategy and tracking the aforementioned metrics are the first step in this direction.
Considering that Google's search engine algorithm ranks a single website on over 200 factors and that Google is constantly changing, evaluating and updating it’s search results, a site that is ranked #1 on Google today, may not even be on the 1st page next week. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing! This means that the possibility of your site moving up to the first page can happen in a short amount of time!
1. Google Listing
Considering that 55% of all clicks go to the first 3 organic search results, listing your business on Google will help you show up at the top AND over to the right when people search your business name. Listing your business on Google helps Google know you are in business and helps customers know how to contact you. Customers can also leave reviews which also helps you rank higher and get more visibility.
2. Domain Name
If your domain name (IE: MasonElectric) utilizes a keyword (Electric) that your company provides as a product or service, your domain will show up higher when someone searches that keyword rather than a domain that doesn’t have that keyword. Don’t fret if you’ve already purchased your domain name and it doesn’t have a keyword! You can always purchase several domain names (UtahElectric, citynameelectric, 24hourelectric, etc) and forward those domains to your main/used domain. Read more about selecting your domain name.
3. Domain Age
Be sure your domain is purchased for 5 years from now. This shows Google that you are sticking around and to take notice. Those websites that have been around for many years tend to rank higher too. Having some history with Google definitely helps.
4. Secure Site
While you’re at it, be sure your site is pointing to a secure site (HTTP vs HTTPS). You want your site to show HTTPS (the S means your site is secure). Contact your domain name provider or where you host your website for help.
Your website and where it ranks in Google search results is largely dependant upon its keywords and your competitors keywords. Evaluate your competition (or hire someone that knows how to research this) and note what keywords they are using and choose your keywords wisely.
6. Well-Built Website
If you’re taking your chances by building your own website, keep in mind that 97% of people don’t click past the first page of results. A professional website designer knows that some of the most important ranking factors include: a mobile friendly or responsive website, fast page speed, quality webpage content (at least 2,000 words/page) and optimized images are of the utmost importance.
Adding a blog to your website can increase its chances of ranking in search engines by 434%! Talk about a great return on your investment! Just be sure your website is at the same domain as your website. You don’t want to send people away to another site to read your blog - you want them to stay of course.
When you blog, it does several great things: it creates new opportunities for relative content and keywords, it allows for more inbound links, it allows for more people to find you via searching content you developed.
8. Become a YouTube Master
So you may have noticed that when you search for certain items, YouTube results will display higher. This is because Google owns YouTube. So unleash your creative genius with video or work with a marketing master who can help you with a variety of ideas to get people searching for your business.
9. Social Media
Social Media can help your website rank higher in a variety of ways. It can help with online visibility and traffic to your site, increased local results, increased brand recognition, broader content distribution and longer content lifespan. So go on - get social!
10. Quality Backlinks
Quality backlinks perform a crucial role in optimizing search engines and has a great effect on the volume of traffic you generate for your site. Without backlinks pointing at your site, it often becomes difficult to generate daily traffic. Backlinks provide the ability to drive new traffic to your site every day uninterruptedly.