In a moment I’m going to show you how you can not only make your error pages far more useful, but also how you can even use them to make money!
Before we get to that though, let’s recap a bit. Previously we saw that the simplest option for your custom error page is to either redirect errors to your site’s main index file/ site map, or make the error page a copy of it.
To make them more helpful, you can also embed some simple SSI commands into the HTML of your error pages that will display information relating to the error. For example, this one will print the name of the file they were trying to reach:
<p>The page “(<!–#echo var=”REQUEST_URI” –>)” could not be found.</p>
Here’s how you might use it:
“We are sorry. The page you requested, “xyz.html” could not be found. It may have been moved, renamed or deleted. Please select from the other options below, or Click Here for our homepage.”
Learn more about SSI and the numerous commands you can use.
Automatically Redirect 404 “Page Not Found Errors”
A great way to manange 404 errors is by using a custom error page together with an automatic redirect script, like the excellent and free Master 404
Every time a 404 error is encountered, the CGI program is activated. It notes the URL and checks to see if it’s in its database of previous bad links and if you’ve assigned the correct URL to redirect to.
If you have, the script redirects the visitor to the web page you specified. Otherwise, it sends them to your custom error page, simultaneously adding the URL to its database for your attention (unless it’s already been added on a previous occassion).
All you do is visit the admin page once a week and simply paste the correct redirect URL into a box displayed next to each new broken link recorded. Perfect!
Turning Error Page Losses To Instant Profits
Even when you provide a surfer with alternative options, there’s still a good chance they will simply leave if they can’t quickly locate the page they wanted.
That being the case, you might want to consider making some kind of profit right off the error page itself. For example, you can:
Put Banners On The Page.
These could be for an affilate program that either either pays you for each click on the banner, or a commissions on sales. Alternativley, you can display banners from an exchange that will earn earn you credits to display your ads on another site.
Advertise Ezines Your Visitors Will Be Interested In.
Make an agreement with several other publishers with similar amounts of traffic to display brief details about your ezines with a sign up box on each other’s error pages.
Alternatively, you could join an ezine co-registration service to earn commissions on new subscribers you refer, or credits on page views for advertising your own publication.
Put Affiliate Product Links On The Page.
Instead of simply sticking a couple of banners on a page, you could put together a related series of affiliate text links covering several topics. Do this tastfully and it can work very well. The key is to select products and services that complement your website theme so that they are likely to appeal to your visitors.
The CBPlugin offers an excellent, hassle-free way to do this, and enables you to offer the best selling ClickBank products in your category of choice simply by adding one line of code to your page. The products displayed are automatically updated – you just paste the code into your page and forget about it!
See it here.
Add Pay-Per-Click Links From A PPC Search Engine.
Several pay-per-click search engines provide ways for you to add their advertiser links to your site, so that you can earn a commission on each clickthrough generated.
With just a few lines of code, this site will even add a full PPC search engine to your error page, together with popular category listings – and you share in the profits from every click!
You can take this concept further by having your error page show pre-defined search results for a keyword phrase that’s highly relevant to your website. This can dramatically increase clickthrought rates and your commissions.
Put One Of Your Product Sales Letter’s On The Page.
This works best if you have quite a highly focussed site, and especially a minisite promoting a single product. In this case, you might not want to even bother making a special page, but simply redirect all errors to whatever is your best converting sales page.
Send Lost Visitors Directly To An Affilate Program.
This one is so easy and potentially powerful that I thought twice about including it. With this method you can use a product sales letter as your error page even if you don’t have your own product!
All you do is go back to your .htaccess file, and instead of specifying “404.html” or whatever in ErrorDocument 404, put your full affilate link there!
Here are several free pop-up window codes you can use.
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