Whenever you are making constant changes to your site it is important to realise that any change in the Search Engines are not instant. So if you change URL’s on your pages then the search engines will take a while to update with the new URL’s. Even at that, they will still hold your old URL indexed for some time.
What this means is that anyone finding the old URL will recieve a 404 (Page not found) Error.
It is possible to customize the 404 Error so that the page redirects to the home page, to a site map, or sales page or squeeze page. This would allow the visitor to navigate away from the 404 page and keep them in your website. With a generic or plain 404 page the visitor may get annoyed and leave your website.
To redirect visitors to a customized 404 error page requires just a few simple steps. In your file directory of your website you should have a file “.htaccess”. If not, just create a blank text document and use your ftp program of choice and upload it to the website.
Open the file “.htaccess” and add the following line.
ErrorDocument 404 www.yourdomain.com/404error.html
“yourdomain” is of course the http:// to your website. 404error.html can be any file name you want, but I like to keep it simple and something that I think will make sense to anyone looking at the file directory.
Now you can hand code or use your favorite web editor to create your custom 404 page. I would recommend keeping it simple and not include a lot of content. Use it get your visitor back to looking at your site.
Hopefully your visitors will not ever land on your 404 error page. If a visitor does find it, your website will look much more professional by taking this small step. If you have a website that is selling, by all means use this page as another source to expose your client to your sales pitch.
To your success,
Brian and Jennifer Baulch