How you can still profit from your 404 website error

 — September 2022
Reading time — 3 minutes
How you can still profit from your 404 website error
Having a successful website means we need to make sure that users don’t hit errors and that they can find exactly what they’re looking for. However there are occasions where we just can’t avoid this, and we’ve all experienced our web browsers displaying the dreaded 404 error page.

What is a 404 error code?

A 404 http status code is when the web server can’t find what we’ve asked it to look for. This is why we get those pages with some version of the message: ‘Page not found’. These errors usually occur because of dead or broken links, or a deleted page that just doesn’t exist anymore.

Errors and Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)

Ideally we don’t want any of our users experiencing these pages as it can negatively impact website conversion rate. Conversion rate optimization CRO is the process where we get users to complete a desired action, such as signing up for news, or buying a product. So we want to share some ideas on what we think are some 404 best practices and how you can optimise error pages.

Make the most out of your 404 page

It’s estimated that 70% of users who encounter a 404 page will leave the site and not return, but we believe that you can turn these negative user experiences into positive ones, and even a profit. Here are some of the ways we believe that you can use your 404 page messaging to increase the percentage of users staying on the site, and increase conversions from these:

Add a search box

By adding a search box, you’re offering your users the chance to find what they actually want. It can also help teach you what they’re actually looking for. Adding a search box will also encourage them to search on your site, so they don’t go to other sites, or search engines to look for the products or services you offer.

Turn it into a lead magnet

What are lead magnets? They are exclusive pieces of content designed as an incentive for an action, for example downloading an ebook or signing up for a newsletter. These help keep users engaged with your business.

This article on hubspot has some great ideas on different types of lead magnets that you can offer from webinars and cheat sheets to ‘secret’ behind the scenes insights.

You might also want to add your social media feed so they can see what you post and follow you, or maybe suggest they download your app with the click of a button.

Offer more reasons to stay on your site

The user may not have found what they were looking for when they reach a 404 error, but you can use this page to display other articles, products and services you have available. 

You might also want to try offering the user a discount code for your ecommerce site. This might make up for the inconvenience of landing on a 404 page, which might also keep them browsing.

Make sure the page includes your company identity

Something’s gone wrong so why not take this opportunity to share your company identity with the customer. This can leave a positive, lasting impression. Whether it’s:

  • Charitable - This example from Seer Interactive who are tracking errors and donating to charity for each one users hit.

  • Playful - Like this example from Kualo where you actually get sidetracked for several minutes playing space invaders. 


We're ready to hear about your requirements (what does your 'blue sky' look like for your site) and are looking forward to working on how we can achieve this together.