SEO & 404 Error Pages

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We’ve covered how to optimize your 404 Error page for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes in the past, making sure all of those dead links out there on the web don’t penalize your web site.

The implementation of a Site Map on 404 Error Pages is one way to do so.

Many websites suffer from error or badlinks from years of being linked to. Instead of receiving an error message, users are taken to an optimized navigational table of contents which can then lead to a conversion or sale. Plus, this helps to solidify sound search engine placement.

One hardcore example of 404 Error Page optimization is at Search Engine Watch. Their 404 page includes links to popular sections & archives, a link to their own search engine, site map links and of course, a link to their homepage.

As a matter of fact, the Search Engine Watch 404 Error page is so hardcore search friendly that it ranks #2 in Google right now in the results for “Search Engine News.”

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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  • Danny Sullivan


    Though it might only be happening for you. I don’t see this for me, unless I go to advanced settings and search 100 results at a time. That might override the normal clustering that goes on. I can see you’re running a Firefox plug in to modify the Google results, so I really suspect that’s not the case for most people. Odd to come up, of course.

  • Loren Baker, Editor

    I wonder if that is the case Danny. Yes, I’m running StumbleUpon and Aaron’s SEO for Firefox.

    Funny, now I’m not seeing it either.

    Here’s the search result page: search engine news

    Any other readers being served the Search Engine Watch 404 Error Page in their results?

  • Eduard Blacqui√ɬ®re

    I’m looking at the result pages of the keyword ‘search engine news’ in from the Netherlands. The 404 page of SearchEngineWatch ranks the second result at the second resultpage (number 12 if I’m not mistaken.. ;-)..)

  • Internet Marketing Costa Rica – Alex Centeno

    Running into this article I noticed a normal mistaken perception of how Google indexes the 404 pages (not found). The Search Engine Watch 404 page that you talk about is not really a 404 response from a server but a 200 response. When you type a non-existent page in their domain you would eventually see a non-navigational, non effective, 404 page, for example: For the purpose of your article, the recommendation is still valid from the perspective of users: you want to provide users with navigation in your 404 pages for them to find the content that they were looking for. In terms of Search Friendly 404, there is no such thing, since a real 404 page wouldn’t be indexed by Google or other search engines.

    Thank you and I hope I this is found helpful.

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    thanks, great and useful information