It would be EXTREMELY frustrating to lose a potential (or even existing) customer over something as silly as a broken link – and, unfortunately, you won’t even always be able to track them down and fix them on your own website, never mind others. Other sites which link to your page, or old bookmarks, could lead customers to the wrong place – and then send them packing to a competitor.
One fairly easy way to rectify this situation, if you know your way around the backbones of your website, is to create a custom error page, usually known as a 404 Redirect. This means that when someone clicks on a “broken” link (a link which no longer goes anywhere/exists, or has been typed incorrectly) within your domain (www.yoursite.com/anythingcouldbehere..) they will see a page specifically designed to keep them within your website.
Example: The home page of my company website looks like this:
And our “custom 404-redirect” page looks like this:
This has been designed to look exactly like the home page, with a quick explanation of what might have happened, and pleeenty of links to other pages within our website.
Method: Create a page like the one above, designed to fit in with the look and feel of the rest of your website. You can decide what text to include but make it obvious that the link they clicked (or the address they typed) wasn’t quite right. Give suggestions of where to go next. Save this page as 404-redirect.html.
Next, go to your .htaccess file and type the following:
ErrorDocument 404 /404-redirect.html
Voila! You can test it by typing http://www.yoursite.com/goaskjjsjgabsfdf in the search bar 🙂 (or something – you get the idea..)
301 Redirect: If a customer clicks a saved link to, for example, your Contact page, which used to be http://www.yoursite.com/contact.htm (and this is what they click on) BUT you have long since changed it to http://www.yoursite.com/contactme.htm – then you can help your customer further by taking them to where they DO want to go.
Again, get into your .htaccess file and type:
Redirect 301 /contact.htm http://www.you.com/contactme.htm
Redirect permanent /page.htm http://www.yoursite.com/page.htm
More information can be found here: