Selling 404: million examples

Table of contents
  1. Why do you need a 404 page?
  2. What needs to be done to make it start to be useful
  3. Introducing
  4. Where to send
  5. We remove the questions
  7. Scary creative
  8. Humor jokes
  9. Finally, we sell!
  10. What shouldn't be a 404 page?
  12. Now let's look at the 404 of a normal person.
  14. Conclusions: then what to do with all this?

If you don't monitor analytics deeply and regularly, you will be surprised how much traffic can go to error pages.

Of course, ideally, this should not be the case, but who has seen the perfect site?

Why do you need a 404 page?

Let's skip the technicalities - wise Google will give a lot of them. Our material is not about that, but how to benefit from the correct error page. Imagine you saw a sign that interested you, go to the store, but there is not what you promised. Most likely, you will not return there again. The 404 page works the same way. A person expects to see something on the site, but instead receives a white screen with a message that the page was not found, or nothing at all.

Have you felt all the pain of contemplating default options? The perception is slightly different depending on whether the transition to 404 came from an internal page or from a search. A person's confidence in the resource falls, and he may even decide that the site is inoperative.

But the problem is not only psychological, but also material, because every leaving visitor = a potential client who was poked. And the page is a free ad board, if that's what you're into. Loss traffic can be converted into leads and the fact that you have a crooked link can be turned into some kind of money. This requires good design, clear navigation, and a little bit of correct customization.

We will tell and show you with examples collected with our own hands from all over the Internet. Not a single site was damaged.


What needs to be done to make it start to be useful

First, see how such a page looks now and whether it exists at all. Usually the address is in the format yourdomain / 404. You can also type some rubbish after the slash (and it's good if 404 opens, otherwise there are problems with duplicates) or slightly distort the URL . Many modern hosters, especially paid ones (or cloud services in some cases) set their own template when the site has not made it. But then they advertise themselves, and they will also receive profit.

  • Most often, a 404 error occurs when a page has been deleted, its address has changed, or someone with curly hands installed broken links. Check them out with any tool from the mass available, for example, the Netpeak spider .
  • Pay special attention to advertising links. If there is at least one broken among them, then not just potential money is lost, but also quite real money.
  • After moving, review all internal links, set up redirects.
  • Make sure that your not found gives the answer you want, and not 200. Soft 404 will make you problems with search engines as well. If they will not index the page with a 404 response, they will willingly take such a page. But this does not bode well: the rejections are high, the content is repeated ...
  • The metadata should also be appropriate. For tracking in Google Analytics, for example, you need a title. And if it's from another page? But what about the optimization and uniqueness of meta tags?

Now, from the preparatory steps, let's move on to describing what the page itself should be like.


  • First of all, when faced with an unexpected four-zero-four, a person wants to understand where he is. Therefore, he should catch sight of your identity - everything that was thought over for the corporate identity and will help to identify you: logo, colors, fonts. So he will understand what is really on your site, and not accidentally got into an unknown place.

If you are a large recognizable brand, this may be enough for the page design, apart from the usability elements. For instance:

We will show this picture, you can guess whose 404 it is?

  • Beat your recognizable chips too. Is there a character, real or fictional, associated with your brand? Great, use it like this:

  • Even the brand itself can be creatively tied to a mistake. A good example was found at a digital studio whose name is associated with the word "lemon". The guys simultaneously demonstrated their skills and were remembered by everyone who visited the error page. Passively. And nowadays it is expensive to be remembered. You can clearly see the importance of / 404, shake it off.

  • It is also useful to reflect your field of activity: the newcomer will understand what you are doing without reading the canvas about “the company has been on the market for more than 10 years,” and the old user will subconsciously strengthen their faith in your expertise. We look at the selection:

And without prompting, you can understand which areas of business these sites represent.

It takes time to build trust. People who do not know are always bought worse, and then there is a mistake ... Therefore, we work for the image, and the image will work for us.

  • But let's break away from the brand and return to the site itself. Do not forget that the page, as a part of it, must also convey the style.

Here is an example of a page from the site of designers, sustained in a general theme, right from the top. Because resource - a business card of the team, there are their photos on it. On 404 - a photo with bewildered faces, which corresponds to the situation and the design as a whole.

Where to send

And now to more mundane questions. Everything about the same site, but closer to the usability and friendliness of the interface .

  • Transfer end-to-end, repeating blocks of the site to the error page: header, footer. An updated copyright will be especially good at this. So the one who got to it will understand that the resource is alive and the problem is only in this particular page. Even if the content of the page is completely poor, it will still be better than nothing.

  • Navigation elements (menu, search, sitemap) will help you navigate where to go next in order to reach your goal. And for the flow to go where you want, just direct it there. Place in front of people's eyes, for example, links to new arrivals, in an understandable way. And even if you design nudgingly ...

  • Leave your contacts so that the person informs about the problem, because you may not be aware of, as well as for quick communication to place an order or ask a question. He will know that he is not left alone with the error, and there is where to turn for help.

The added social media buttons will also work. And besides the communication function, they will show the activity of your business.

These steps will transform even the most unsightly error and increase the chances that the site will not be left, the buttons will be clicked, the pages will be viewed. After all, if this does not happen, who will bother at all and go somewhere.

We remove the questions

Let's start with the worst pain of a 404 visitor - they didn't get what they wanted . Therefore, an important task for you is to show him that he can still get it. At least try.

  1. Push associations . Think about why people come to you, what you can give them and show that you will give it. Play on positive emotions to soften mental stress. The client will not feel like an idiot because he made a mistake, he will not be annoyed by the lack of what he wants, because he has found something unusual or pleasant. Here are some examples:

A man on the site of a ski resort is looking for a vacation. And he is here. They just typed the wrong address.

A large platform initially for the sale of children's goods. Children. They are looking for. There are a lot of things. It is symbolic.

They go to the website of a fashion brand for clothes that make you feel like a star. And mediocrity does not fall into such an environment.

An error on the food delivery website suggests that, despite all that, food can be found here. Quite unexpectedly - it motivates a person!

An animated page on a job search site seems to say that one door is closing, the other is opening.

2. Now you need to apologize for wasted time and close questions like
WTF ? !! Those. why the client got here :

  • you have moved / are working / restructuring the site / just started making it
  • the link is out of date / incorrect / the page was deleted / the address was changed
  • bad connection / forbidden resource

Advise him what to do:

  • refresh page / check url
  • find a good internet / VPN
  • use search

Suggest something in return:

  • correct link / similar queries
  • recent arrivals / previously viewed products / list of recently moved or deleted files
  • contact you / whip a programmer

Be polite and engage in dialogue as if it were in front of you. Something you didn't find, but there are other interesting things. The explanations should be clear and concise, the structure should be simple so that no more questions arise. And don't take Google's bread.


Scary creative

As the last time. Spend a little time, money or gray matter, and then everything will work without you. The goal is to hit the client in the head, to hook him - a transparent marketing task. Correctness is correct, but an ordinary user will not check by checklist whether all the rules are followed. Therefore, the most witty ideas and bright design are needed.

So, for example, a toy store managed to turn a 404 error into its chip - a secret page that is not scary to get to.

A great idea with a parallel universe!

Amazon and his dogs. These are not pop cats, they are employees. Change every time. And now you are already going to get acquainted with all the dogs, as suggested by Amazon. And now you read what every dog loves, and increase the behavioral factors for Amazon.

In general, the task of our 404 page is to motivate a person to stay on the site and, preferably, buy something . To make the visitor get stuck and walk is priceless. And the search engines will put a tick on you. It is especially good to do this with interactivity. Some even leave games at 404. The purchase, of course, is unlikely to stimulate, but you can get into the bookmarks.

Humor jokes

It's great. You can smooth over the awkwardness of the situation. If you know your audience, then doubly (geek jokes are unlikely to go to aunts). Joke within the bounds of decency and mutual respect, otherwise do not deny yourself.

Finally, we sell!

  • The most commonplace solution that will help you make money on a 404 is to place what you want to sell :
    • unobtrusive product blocks (not the entire catalog)
    • popular sections
    • banner with promotional offer

  • Add forms and collect leads . Why not? Excellent it is possible to unobtrusively get contacts of interested visitors, to replenish the database. And a plausible pretext.

  • Post lead magnets for the advanced and savvy marketer. Freebies always work. But here you have to invest a little and give something for free: a service, consultation, a sample ...

... or the most interesting - a special discount from a 404 page with a promo code. Put another share button there, and someone will take it and share it, show what a fine fellow he is, he has found an exclusive!

  • And, of course, some online stores are not alien to monetization . For example, branding.

You can insert links to sections with advertising. But remember that not every system allows for error pages.

The main thing is to build a proposal. And before you delete a page forever, make sure there is no demand for it.

What shouldn't be a 404 page?

Partially this moment was touched in different places, so let's clarify the rest.

  • Empty or boring

Such a page will not sell anything, it will only drive visitors into suspended animation. Sometimes you look, it seems that there is both a structure and navigation, but it does not cause any desires:

  • 404 shouldn't be any other page

When a visitor hits it, first of all, he needs to understand that the file he is looking for was not found. Try to look at the error information here right away:

No need to dump the entire assortment and list all the categories on 5 screens. For this, there are special pages, which sell or be a directory tree is a direct function. Add as many elements as you need, but so that the essence is not lost behind them.

  • Slow loading

With too many graphics, any page is evil. Even if someone is ready to wait for the download for the sake of what they were looking for, then they will definitely not waste time on the error page. You can say goodbye to him right away.

  • Redirect to home

According to the canons, there should be a link to the main page, but not a redirect. The user wanted to get to the wrong place. But this does not prevent fairly well-known sites from using this maneuver. Among them New Mail, MOYO, Aliexpress. This is not very convenient from the client side, there is a high probability of not understanding what is happening and leaving. The Chinese are a little more loyal to their users and warn how long the transition will take.


Now let's look at the 404 of a normal person.

and not a smoker, and what tricks do large and not so big retailers in the CIS countries use.


Conclusions: then what to do with all this?

Remember, the 404 seller won't come by itself. Contact the specialists , describe to them your wishes and the specifics of the business.

Track : how many error pages - in the console, what traffic goes to them - in Analytics, searches from these pages - in the same place, transitions and clicks - on heatmaps. Do a / b tests and track again.

We are sure that you will see the result, learn how to turn mistakes into engagement and money. This is the ultimate goal of any business.

We hope there was something to be inspired by. All creative and always find what you are looking for!

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