How to Create a Custom 404 Error Page to Stop Losing Website Visitors

  • Have you ever experienced the dreaded “404 error not found” page?
  • What does “404 error not found” mean?
  • Do visitors often misspell your web address?
  • Do you want to stop losing visitors and increase your website traffic?

When you’re surfing the net looking for information you sometimes misspell a website address or encounter a broken link on a website. This causes the 404 error web page to be displayed. When a person sees this they will immediately go elsewhere. If this is your particular website it means you’ll constantly be losing visitors. Large websites often contain broken links that have not been fixed so visitors will receive page errors and leave the site.

How to create a custom 404 error page to stop losing website visitors

The purpose of creating this page is to retain your visitors by redirecting them to another section of your website.

1. Create a new HTML page

  • Name the page error404.html or whatever you like.
  • Clearly state your visitor has arrived at an error page
  • Suggest to click on the back button to return to the previous page or
  • Include a paragraph apologizing for the inconvenience of reaching the error page
  • Create a clear navigation menu and home page link
  • Include your contact information so people can inform you about the broken links on your website.

2. Create a.htaccess file

This is a text file placed in the root directory of your website (same location as the index.html file). The code placed in this file redirects visitors who clicked on broken links or mistyped your web address to the error404.html page.

  • Open Notepad on your computer to create a text file
  • Name the text file.htaccess.txt
  • Place this line of code in your file: ErrorDocument 404 /error404.html
  • Save and upload the.htaccess.txt file to the root directory on the server

3. Test your custom 404 error page

To test your custom 404 error page, simply type a web address into your browser that doesn’t exist. The custom 404 error page should immediately appear. If the error page doesn’t look right or work correctly, return to Notepad to correct it.

Example of custom 404 error page

Check your website statistics to get an idea how many visitors are receiving error messages. They will give you an indication how many people are leaking from your website. To stop the leaking create a custom 404 error page and you’ll experience an increase in visitor retention.

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Herman Drost is the Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW)
Owner and author of


  1. I found your article very thought provoking. The way it was written made me look at things from a different angle and think about what I originaly thought, why not visit us :-).I will definately be back again.

  2. tbtbldshqdavaruiexil, zaposlitev, iSvWfqu.

  3. Surprisee adminstrator , i love with u article. Do you have twitter or facebook so i can follow you ?

  4. Adella…to follow me on Twitter go to:

  5. Really trying to make this work but it isn’t. Seems simple enough but the no found page keeps coming up. My page is well over 512 bytes. Hosting with AT&T.


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