Never a Dead-End: Assisting User Website Direction

woman standing on an ocean shore with nowhere to go

Remember back in the day, before smart phones and GPS, when you were driving down a road somewhere unfamiliar and you must have missed that “when you reach the corner with the house that has a red door: make a right” cue on your scribbles notes? You obviously didn’t catch the green mailbox that was your cue telling you that you’ve gone too far, either.  You had to stop and ask for directions.

That’s similar to what happens when a user visits a website and gets lost either searching for something or inevitably landing on a 404 page. No one enjoys reaching any 404 page, because it means they haven’t found what they have been looking for. What’s worse if if the 404 page does not encourage the user to keep looking, or at least acting as a sherpa back to the homepage.

light house at night with a bridge
Show your users how to get home

Maybe it’s an ecommerce site, and the user has searched or viewed some products before landing on the 404 page. Show them some similar items, or categories that may help them find what they’re looking for or inspire them to look for something new. Maybe the site is a news source, and they can’t seem to find an article they were searching for. Give them search options for a date range or assist with better keywords they could use based on history.

Retaining a user on a webpage could potentially keep them coming back in the future. It will allow a user to experience your brand further and become confident in the brand simply by allowing them a choice to continue instead of bouncing to another site (or competitor). Remove the barriers and don’t let the user quit! Better yet, seek the guidance of a local SEO company to make sure you’re on the right track. Lastly, a brand can use a 404 page as an opportunity to drive a user in a direction they might not have thought about going. Maybe they won’t need to ask for directions anymore and just explore the unknown.