Google has just launched a new feature in webmaster tools which helps users create custom 404 pages. Custom 404 pages are of course a great way to help your users navigate through to relevant pages if they type in a wrong URL or get lost. A regular 404 page will often put users off or make them think that your site doesn’t exist. Many webmasters overlook custom 404 pages but with this new widget they should be able to create one within a matter of minutes.
Google is of course a strong believer of custom 404 pages and recently dedicated an entire week to 404 pages. Google is not the only believer as a quick search custom 404 pages in Google will provide you with plenty of sites offering tips on how to optimise your 404 pages. They include, what links are best to include and how to write exciting and enticing text. Some of them are well worth the read. Although there is some debate over the finer details I believe in just keeping things simple. When users arrive on your 404 page they essentially just want to get to where they are going. They don’t want to be provided with hundred of different options and long blocks of text. The other thing worth noting is that 404 pages, in some cases can improve bounce rates.