When you run an e-commerce store, you rely on everything working as it should. When people click on a link to see the details of the product, you want them to be able to find everything they need, and when problems occur, you lose business.
One of the biggest problems for e-commerce stores is when HTTP error codes show up. And one of the most common of these is the “HTTP error 404.”
So what is this, and what do you need to do about it?
HTTP Error 404 Overview
There are various HTTP errors, and they all mean different things. HTTP error 404 is the most common, and it basically means that the page does not exist.
You may have experienced these yourself when browsing online. You click on a link and get taken to a specific web page, but there is nothing to see, and you get an error message instead.
What’s Gone Wrong?
If you are browsing online and you see this error, often you have typed in the wrong URL, or the link you clicked on was incorrect.
However, if someone visits a page on your store and they see the message, the other possibility is that the page has been moved, or you might have changed the address.
Why Is It a Problem?
If people cannot find the information they are looking for, they will become frustrated, and they may leave the website altogether, meaning you’ve lost a sale. It can also increase your bounce rate.
There are also suggestions that if you have a lot of these, they could affect your SEO. Google says this is not the case, but some SEOs think it can be a problem.
Find Out What the Issue Is
When you discover a 404 on your own site, find out what the issue is. Have you moved a page? Have you deleted a page? For some HTTP errors, it may be a problem with the host, so make sure you are using a reputable host with good security. Cloud hosting from an AS400 expert can be a good option.
Once you know what the problem is, you can sort it out, and this may involve changing the URL of a page.
Try Customizing Your 404 Pages
Another general option is to create a custom 404 page. In this, you could create a more personal message in your brand voice. Use it to apologize for the error and provide some options, like a link to the home page. Or recommend that they search for the product they were looking for in the search bar, and even direct them to it with an arrow.
Use 301 Redirects
If you have permanently removed a page, a good option is to use 301 redirects
This directs the visitor to the correct page, while passing on the ranking power of the original page so you don’t lose any SEO you’ve done.
Take Action on HTTP Error Codes
HTTP error codes are very common, especially HTTP error 404. However, if you are running an ecommerce store, it makes sense to take note of any 404 errors you discover so you can take action. And don’t forget to add a personal 404 message to encourage visitors to stay on your site instead of bouncing.
Luca Boyle is an e-commerce owner who has most recently moved into consultancy. He shares his top tips for small, and micro, businesses whether it’s about hosting, marketing or running a small business in general.