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7 Awesome 404 Error Pages from The World’s Most Popular Websites

Is there any topic more exciting than 404 errors?

It’s brutally boring, BUT I’ve decided to spice things up a little.

In this article, I’m going to analyze 404 error page designs from the 100 most popular websites in the world.

I’ll also show you how to fix 404 errors at the end.

Let’s jump in.

What is a 404 Error Page?

A 404 error occurs when you land on a page that doesn’t exist on the host website.

Gotch SEO 404 Error

It can be frustrating when you’re a user and that’s why it’s important for SEO. What’s important for users is important for your SEO campaign.

This doesn’t mean you need to “fix” all the 404 pages on your website either.

More on this in a second. There is one universal truth that applies to every website:

Your 404 page design and UX needs to be effective.

Model the some of the terrific 404 pages I found from the most popular websites in the world. Take a look:

Model These 404 Pages

I’ve ranked these 404 error pages based on effectiveness. Not how clever they are. Here we go:

1. eBay

eBay’s 404 page is perfect. It’s helpful for users and it’s also built to convert.

Ebay 404 Error Page

2. Healthline

Healthline’s 404 page works well because it’s on-brand. It also directs users back to the important parts of their website.

healthline 404

3. RetailMeNot

RetailMeNot uses a nice conversion-focused 404 page. You should consider testing this model if you’re running a coupon site.

Retailmenot 404

4. Go.com (Disney)

Go.com combines creativity (which is on-brand for Disney) and effectiveness by offering a search function on their 404 pages. Great job!

Disney 404 error

5. CNET

CNET has a clever and effective 404 error page. It’s effective because of the display ads placed in strategic locations. I also love the “All-Time Favorites” content section.

CNET 404

This is an effective way to send users back into their website’s rabbit hole. They know more dwell time equals more ad revenue.

6. Facebook

Facebook’s 404 page design is on-brand and simple. It gives users enough options to find what they need. Well done.

Facebook 404 Page

7. YouTube

YouTube’s 404 error page is simple and effective. You only have one option and that’s to search.

YouTube 404 Page

It would make sense for Google.com to model YouTube’s 404 page. Not sure why they wouldn’t when search is their bread and butter.

404 Pages NOT to Model

1. Amazon

Amazon’s 404 page caught me off guard. Marketers study Amazon because of its conversion-focused mindset. So what’s going on here? Why are they pushing the “Meet the dogs of Amazon”? agenda on a 404 page?

Amazon 404 Page

I understand if they’re trying to make their company more relatable and “human” and that’s fine. The timing is a little strange.

Let’s step into the mind of the user for a second.

They were looking for something specific and now they’re presented with a distraction. A percentage of people will click to learn more about “the dogs of Amazon”. Then a small percentage of those people will forget what they were even doing on Amazon in the first place.

So, if we’re examining this from a pure conversion perspective, it’s an odd strategy.

The good news is Amazon still shows a prominent search function. It’s not a “bad” 404 error page. It’s just a weird strategy.

2. Google

Surprisingly, Google has a bad 404 page. The page isn’t helpful for users at all. It informs them that they tried to reach a page that doesn’t exist, but what happens next?

Google 404 Error Page

The only option is to hit the back button on their browser or exit. You would think the biggest search engine in the world would have a search function on their 404 error page.

The funny part is another division of their company (YouTube) has a better 404 page. See above.

3. Reddit

I don’t know if Reddit’s team is trying to be clever or this isn’t intentional. It’s a bad 404 error page regardless. It doesn’t direct users anywhere and it gives no guidance.

Reddit 404 Not Found Page

My only assumption is the Reddit team has concluded their user base is intelligent enough to find what they need on their own.

Here’s an interesting fact about my research:

13 of the 100 most popular websites have 404 error pages like Reddit.

4. Spotify

Spotify’s 404 page looks okay on the surface, but there are some issues with the links. It’s a common UX best practice to underline links initially or on a hover. Spotify doesn’t do either.

Spotify 404 page

This makes the links to their “FAQ” and “Community” pages almost invisible. The other issue is the “Go Back” link doesn’t work because they’re using Javascript. Not sure why.

Javascript

How to Fix 404 Errors

The best way to find and fix 404 errors is to use Screaming Frog SEO Spider.

But before you dig in, when should you fix a 404 error?

The answer is sometimes.

Here’s a simple criteria to follow:

  1. 301 redirect a 404 page if there’s a suitable alternative on your website.
  2. 301 redirect a 404 page if it has existing backlinks, traffic, sales, or any other positive KPIs. If you don’t have a relevant page to 301, then redirect it to the homepage.

If a 404 page doesn’t have any positive KPIs, then let it be a 404. Google will crawl it and remove it from the index. I recommend going into Google Search Console and marking the 404s as “fixed”.

It’s not necessary, but it doesn’t hurt.

How to Find 404 Error Pages

Open up Screaming Frog SEO Spider, enter your target domain and start the analysis.

Screaming Frog

Click on the “Response Codes” tab. Then click on the “Filter” dropdown and select “Client Error (4xx)”.

Screaming Frog 404s

Export all the 404 errors.

list of 404 errors

The next step is to take all of your 404 pages and analyze them using Ahrefs. Go to Ahrefs, click on “More” in the navigation and click “Batch analysis”.

Ahrefs Batch Analysis

Enter your URLs and start the analysis.

Ahrefs Bulk Analysis Tool

Click on the “Domains” column and you’ll see what 404 pages have existing backlinks.

Referring Domains Ahrefs

Now 301 redirect the 404 pages (with existing backlinks) to a relevant page.

5 Qualities of Perfect 404 Pages

Here are a few 404 page qualities to emulate based on my analysis of the top websites in the world:

1. Be user-focused

Landing on a 404 page can be frustrating. Help the user as much as you can.

2. Stay on-brand

The best 404 pages stayed on-brand and were creative. Especially Disney:

Disney 404 error

Attention to detail goes a long way.

3. Keep it simple

Don’t overwhelm the user more than they already are. Give them exactly they need to find what they were looking for.

4. Make links look like links

UX 101 right here. Your links should always look like links.

Ebay Help Pages

5. Try to drive conversions (if it makes sense)

Not every website can try to make sales on a 404 page. But if it makes sense in your situation, test it.

Ebay Trending Deals

That’s All!

Optimizing 404 pages won’t have a huge impact on SEO performance, but it can’t be overlooked. Design a quality 404 page and 301 redirect pages that are worth redirecting (based on KPIs and relevance).

Enjoy this post? Please share it. Thanks!

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Yoast SEO Import & Export features

When you’re a web developer or SEO, working with many clients, you probably have a set of settings for Yoast SEO for WordPress that you prefer. You might have a default title template, for instance, default XML sitemap settings, etc. This post will teach you how to easily apply those settings to a site quickly using the Yoast SEO Import and Export features. In addition, you’ll meet a couple of other import and export features in Yoast SEO.

Making a reusable Yoast SEO Export file

Let’s make a reusable settings file! First, pick a site and set it up as you would any site, applying all of your default SEO settings. Then you go to the Yoast SEO Import and Export page (Yoast SEO → Tools → Import and Export). On this page, you’ll find a couple of tabs:

The Tools section has all the import and export tools you need

Click on Export for the first step. After that, click the blue button called Export Your Yoast SEO Settings. You’ll see you settings appear in the text field. Copy the contents of the field to a new plain text file. Filter out any site specific meta data and save the file in a location you can find it again.

In the file, please exclude taxonomy metadata, as you don’t want to include specific category meta descriptions and so forth. This is not really something you wish to apply to every site.

The secret of Yoast SEO Export files

The (not so secret) secret of Yoast SEO Export files is that a simple text file contains everything you need. It’ll look something like this:

All your settings in a plain text file

Each set of options starts with the option name in brackets, like [wpseo] and [wpseo_permalinks] in the example above. The reason you’ll want to edit it is because you want it to be reusable. So you’ll want to remove any and all site specific data, like a company logo & name, verification strings for Bing, Google, Yandex, etc.

Once you’ve made your changes, simply save the text file.

Import the Yoast SEO Export file

Now, on the site you want to apply these settings to, go to the Yoast SEO Import page (Yoast SEO → Tools → Import and Export, the first tab), open your new text file, copy its contents, paste it in the field and click Import settings. That’s it. Nothing more to it, you’ve easily applied all your default settings to your new site.

If you set up a lot of sites, this will save you valuable minutes every time you do so!

Import from other SEO plugins

If you are coming from another SEO plugin, you’re in luck. Yoast SEO automatically detects your old plugin and can import all your settings. You’ll be up and running in no-time.

Import and Export in Yoast SEO Premium

Yoast SEO Premium has several other options to import and export data, these include the possibility to export meta data about your content to CSV, and import and export redirects in a variety of ways.

Export keyphrase data to CSV

A cool addition to Yoast SEO Premium is the possibility to export data about your content to an CSV file. This way, you can use this giant overview for doing a content audit, for instance, or to quickly see which posts haven’t been optimized correctly. You can choose to export your post with the following options:

  • Export keyphrase scores
  • Export URL
  • Export title
  • Export SEO title
  • Export meta description
  • Export readability score

Import the CSV into Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel and start working!

Export your keyphrases and start auditing your content

Import and export redirects

A big time-saver if you’re working a lot with redirects: importing and exporting of redirects. Yoast SEO Premium users can import redirects in a number ways, like from well-known WordPress redirect plugins, to manually from an CSV file. You can also import your redirects directly from your .htaccess file. If you need to export your redirects to check up on these or move these to another site, you can export the data to a CSV.

Of course, we have an article on how to import redirects using Yoast SEO.

Read more: Why you should buy Yoast SEO Premium »

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Product Showcase: Brand Ambassador

Continuing our series of product showcases that started with the recently launched AccurateAppraisals.com, today we’re going to take a look at Brand Ambassador, and the potential to help build a profitable network of online influencers.

A brand ambassador represents your brand in a positive way and provides a more consumer-centric view of the products or services in question.

Anyone who can do that for your company is worth their weight in gold.

In an era where people are prone to mistrust regular advertising, these messages seem to come from people just like them – regular people that they follow on social media and have opinions that they trust.

Potentially, anyone could fill this role for your company – a fan, a customer, a social media influencer, and anyone else who can spread the positive word about your company or products.

Of course, not all of them provide the same value to your company. And many of them may still need a little more incentive to become an active ambassador.

That is where Brand Ambassador comes in.

Brand ambassadors, like any other resource, can be hard to manage. And, if you’ve been building a community of ambassadors by sponsoring their work in the form of free products or other compensation, you need to make sure they are providing some real value in return.

In the world of social media, this is especially important. You need to know who is posting about you and to make sure the content the ambassadors are creating actually supports your brand.

We are talking about Brand Ambassador in this context because they have documented instances in which companies have been able to drive a 40% increase in sales in three months.

This product gives companies the ability to:

  • Manage the existing ambassador base to improve the quantity and quality of content creation and maintain commitment through better communication tools.
  • Obtain reliable up-to-date data on their ambassadors’ daily activity by centralizing all content and measuring impressions, engagement, and exposure generated.
  • Scale and empower their ambassador network to drive sales through referral codes that track clicks and conversions. This also means they can create custom ambassador incentive programs.

This software is designed to incentivize current paid influencers to join the platform by making it easier for them to create content across all social media channels. The entire process is quite simple. It goes a little like this:

  1. Invite your customers, friends, and followers to be a part of a community of Brand Ambassadors.
  2. Communicate directly with them so you can keep them involved with any campaigns, promotions, and any other important events.
  3. Analyze the results through the metrics that are tracked in the system. It gives the brand the ability to measure and understand the amount of influence a social media push (and each individual ambassador and influencer) really has.

Influencer marketing can have a huge impact on your brand. To show exactly how much, Brand Ambassador shared a case study with us in which it took just 4 months for a brand’s network to grow exponentially. In those few months, their network was able to generate more than 3k posts, earning more than 500k likes, and 25k comments. They calculate that the visibility grew to nearly 8.5 million impressions in a single month of activity.

Is It for You?

The right influencers can have a huge impact on your brand perception, the question is how much value is each one contributing.

This platform is designed to help you manage your influencers and motivate your advocates (and potentially provide rewards for their activities). You can expand and utilize user-generated content to leverage the power of these online personalities.

Brand Ambassador is offering an effective tool to help brands communicate with their influencers and ambassadors.

We’ve discussed before how important a network of influencers can be in the modern marketing world, but many people don’t know where to even start. Sure, to some extent, a good ambassador community will form naturally, but if you go about it the wrong way, you could hinder your efforts before you get things rolling.

This tool may be what you need to kickstart your community growth.

The post Product Showcase: Brand Ambassador appeared first on SEO.com.

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AMP'd Up for Recaptcha

Beyond search Google controls the leading distributed ad network, the leading mobile OS, the leading web browser, the leading email client, the leading web analytics platform, the leading mapping platform, the leading free video hosting site.

They win a lot.

And they take winnings from one market & leverage them into manipulating adjacent markets.

Embrace. Extend. Extinguish.

AMP is an utterly unnecessary invention designed to further shift power to Google while disenfranchising publishers. From the very start it had many issues with basic things like supporting JavaScript, double counting unique users (no reason to fix broken stats if they drive adoption!), not supporting third party ad networks, not showing publisher domain names, and just generally being a useless layer of sunk cost technical overhead that provides literally no real value.

Over time they have corrected some of these catastrophic deficiencies, but if it provided real value, they wouldn’t have needed to force adoption with preferential placement in their search results. They force the bundling because AMP sucks.

Absurdity knows no bounds. Googlers suggest: “AMP isn’t another “channel” or “format” that’s somehow not the web. It’s not a SEO thing. It’s not a replacement for HTML. It’s a web component framework that can power your whole site. … We, the AMP team, want AMP to become a natural choice for modern web development of content websites, and for you to choose AMP as framework because it genuinely makes you more productive.”

Meanwhile some newspapers have about a dozen employees who work on re-formatting content for AMP:

The AMP development team now keeps track of whether AMP traffic drops suddenly, which might indicate pages are invalid, and it can react quickly.

All this adds expense, though. There are setup, development and maintenance costs associated with AMP, mostly in the form of time. After implementing AMP, the Guardian realized the project needed dedicated staff, so it created an 11-person team that works on AMP and other aspects of the site, drawing mostly from existing staff.

Feeeeeel the productivity!

Some content types (particularly user generated content) can be unpredictable & circuitous. For many years forums websites would use keywords embedded in the search referral to highlight relevant parts of the page. Keyword (not provided) largely destroyed that & then it became a competitive feature for AMP: “If the Featured Snippet links to an AMP article, Google will sometimes automatically scroll users to that section and highlight the answer in orange.”

That would perhaps be a single area where AMP was more efficient than the alternative. But it is only so because Google destroyed the alternative by stripping keyword referrers from search queries.

The power dynamics of AMP are ugly:

“I see them as part of the effort to normalise the use of the AMP Carousel, which is an anti-competitive land-grab for the web by an organisation that seems to have an insatiable appetite for consuming the web, probably ultimately to it’s own detriment. … This enables Google to continue to exist after the destination site (eg the New York Times) has been navigated to. Essentially it flips the parent-child relationship to be the other way around. … As soon as a publisher blesses a piece of content by packaging it (they have to opt in to this, but see coercion below), they totally lose control of its distribution. … I’m not that smart, so it’s surely possible to figure out other ways of making a preload possible without cutting off the content creator from the people consuming their content. … The web is open and decentralised. We spend a lot of time valuing the first of these concepts, but almost none trying to defend the second. Google knows, perhaps better than anyone, how being in control of the user is the most monetisable position, and having the deepest pockets and the most powerful platform to do so, they have very successfully inserted themselves into my relationship with millions of other websites. … In AMP, the support for paywalls is based on a recommendation that the premium content be included in the source of the page regardless of the user’s authorisation state. … These policies demonstrate contempt for others’ right to freely operate their businesses.

After enough publishers adopted AMP Google was able to turn their mobile app’s homepage into an interactive news feed below the search box. And inside that news feed Google gets to distribute MOAR ads while 0% of the revenue from those ads find its way to the publishers whose content is used to make up the feed.

Appropriate appropriation. 😀

Thank you for your content!!!

The mainstream media is waking up to AMP being a trap, but their neck is already in it:

European and American tech, media and publishing companies, including some that originally embraced AMP, are complaining that the Google-backed technology, which loads article pages in the blink of an eye on smartphones, is cementing the search giant’s dominance on the mobile web.

Each additional layer of technical cruft is another cost center. Things that sound appealing at first blush may not be:

The way you verify your identity to Let’s Encrypt is the same as with other certificate authorities: you don’t really. You place a file somewhere on your website, and they access that file over plain HTTP to verify that you own the website. The one attack that signed certificates are meant to prevent is a man-in-the-middle attack. But if someone is able to perform a man-in-the-middle attack against your website, then he can intercept the certificate verification, too. In other words, Let’s Encrypt certificates don’t stop the one thing they’re supposed to stop. And, as always with the certificate authorities, a thousand murderous theocracies, advertising companies, and international spy organizations are allowed to impersonate you by design.

Anything that is easy to implement & widely marketed often has costs added to it in the future as the entity moves to monetize the service.

This is a private equity firm buying up multiple hosting control panels & then adjusting prices.

This is Google Maps drastically changing their API terms.

This is Facebook charging you for likes to build an audience, giving your competitors access to those likes as an addressable audience to advertise against, and then charging you once more to boost the reach of your posts.

This is Grubhub creating shadow websites on your behalf and charging you for every transaction created by the gravity of your brand.

Shivane believes GrubHub purchased her restaurant’s web domain to prevent her from building her own online presence. She also believes the company may have had a special interest in owning her name because she processes a high volume of orders. … it appears GrubHub has set up several generic, templated pages that look like real restaurant websites but in fact link only to GrubHub. These pages also display phone numbers that GrubHub controls. The calls are forwarded to the restaurant, but the platform records each one and charges the restaurant a commission fee for every order

Settling for the easiest option drives a lack of differentiation, embeds additional risk & once the dominant player has enough marketshare they’ll change the terms on you.

Small gains in short term margins for massive increases in fragility.

“Closed platforms increase the chunk size of competition & increase the cost of market entry, so people who have good ideas, it is a lot more expensive for their productivity to be monetized. They also don’t like standardization … it looks like rent seeking behaviors on top of friction” – Gabe Newell

The other big issue is platforms that run out of growth space in their core market may break integrations with adjacent service providers as each want to grow by eating the other’s market.

Those who look at SaaS business models through the eyes of a seasoned investor will better understand how markets are likely to change:

“I’d argue that many of today’s anointed tech “disruptors” are doing little in the way of true disruption. … When investors used to get excited about a SAAS company, they typically would be describing a hosted multi-tenant subscription-billed piece of software that was replacing a ‘legacy’ on-premise perpetual license solution in the same target market (i.e. ERP, HCM, CRM, etc.). Today, the terms SAAS and Cloud essentially describe the business models of every single public software company.

Most platform companies are initially required to operate at low margins in order to buy growth of their category & own their category. Then when they are valued on that, they quickly need to jump across to adjacent markets to grow into the valuation:

Twilio has no choice but to climb up the application stack. This is a company whose ‘disruption’ is essentially great API documentation and gangbuster SEO spend built on top of a highly commoditized telephony aggregation API. They have won by marketing to DevOps engineers. With all the hype around them, you’d think Twilio invented the telephony API, when in reality what they did was turn it into a product company. Nobody had thought of doing this let alone that this could turn into a $17 billion company because simply put the economics don’t work. And to be clear they still don’t. But Twilio’s genius CEO clearly gets this. If the market is going to value robocalls, emergency sms notifications, on-call pages, and carrier fee passed through related revenue growth in the same way it does ‘subscription’ revenue from Atlassian or ServiceNow, then take advantage of it while it lasts.

Large platforms offering temporary subsidies to ensure they dominate their categories & companies like SoftBank spraying capital across the markets is causing massive shifts in valuations:

I also think if you look closely at what is celebrated today as innovation you often find models built on hidden subsidies. … I’d argue the very distributed nature of microservices architecture and API-first product companies means addressable market sizes and unit economics assumptions should be even more carefully scrutinized. … How hard would it be to create an Alibaba today if someone like SoftBank was raining money into such a greenfield space? Excess capital would lead to destruction and likely subpar returns. If capital was the solution, the 1.5 trillion that went into telcos in late ’90s wouldn’t have led to a massive bust. Would a Netflix be what it is today if a SoftBank was pouring billions into streaming content startups right as the experiment was starting? Obviously not. Scarcity of capital is another often underappreciated part of the disruption equation. Knowing resources are finite leads to more robust models. … This convergence is starting to manifest itself in performance. Disney is up 30% over the last 12 months while Netflix is basically flat. This may not feel like a bubble sign to most investors, but from my standpoint, it’s a clear evidence of the fact that we are approaching a something has got to give moment for the way certain businesses are valued.”

Circling back to Google’s AMP, it has a cousin called Recaptcha.

Recaptcha is another AMP-like trojan horse:

According to tech statistics website Built With, more than 650,000 websites are already using reCaptcha v3; overall, there are at least 4.5 million websites use reCaptcha, including 25% of the top 10,000 sites. Google is also now testing an enterprise version of reCaptcha v3, where Google creates a customized reCaptcha for enterprises that are looking for more granular data about users’ risk levels to protect their site algorithms from malicious users and bots. … According to two security researchers who’ve studied reCaptcha, one of the ways that Google determines whether you’re a malicious user or not is whether you already have a Google cookie installed on your browser. … To make this risk-score system work accurately, website administrators are supposed to embed reCaptcha v3 code on all of the pages of their website, not just on forms or log-in pages.

About a month ago when logging into Bing Ads I saw recaptcha on the login page & couldn’t believe they’d give Google control at that access point. I think they got rid of that, but lots of companies are perhaps shooting themselves in the foot through a combination of over-reliance on Google infrastructure AND sloppy implementation

Today when making a purchase on Fiverr, after converting, I got some of this action

Hmm. Maybe I will enable JavaScript and try again.

Oooops.

That is called snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

My account is many years old. My payment type on record has been used for years. I have ordered from the particular seller about a dozen times over the years. And suddenly because my web browser had JavaScript turned off I was deemed a security risk of some sort for making an utterly ordinary transaction I have already completed about a dozen times.

On AMP JavaScript was the devil. And on desktop not JavaScript was the devil.

Pro tip: Ecommerce websites that see substandard conversion rates from using Recaptcha can boost their overall ecommerce revenue by buying more Google AdWords ads.

As more of the infrastructure stack is driven by AI software there is going to be a very real opportunity for many people to become deplatformed across the web on an utterly arbitrary basis. That tech companies like Facebook also want to create digital currencies on top of the leverage they already have only makes the proposition that much scarier.

If the tech platforms host copies of our sites, process the transactions & even create their own currencies, how will we know what level of value they are adding versus what they are extracting?

Who measures the measurer?

And when the economics turn negative, what will we do if we are hooked into an ecosystem we can’t spend additional capital to get out of when things head south?

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