Ironically, it took a spammer to notify me that this website you are on now had a big gap in its design. It is the same error that inflicts all websites until something creative is done about it.
The error is the infamous “404 Page Not Found” message that we’ve all run into on the web visiting other sites.
Technically speaking, according to Wikipedia, here is the definition of the 404 error:
The 404 or Not Found error message is a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) standard response code, in computer network communications, to indicate that the client was able to communicate with a given server, but the server could not find what was requested.
Translation for you and me:
A visitor to your website clicks on or types into their browser a broken page link.
For example, an Error 404 Page Not Found message will be displayed on a screen by default if someone types in your domain name correctly (e.g. https://GracefulResources.com) into her browser but not the page address (e.g. https://GracefulResources.com/testmonials instead of https://GracefulResources.com/testimonials).
The Dangers of Error 404 Page Not Found
In my case, the helpful spammer ironically revealed to me that my Error 404 Page Not Found was also displaying my entire sitemap including a resource I have for sale to help job interviewers.
In other words, if people have access to the full sitemap, they could access any resource without actually paying for it.
The more common danger of Error 404 Page Not Found is simply that your site visitors will abandon their visit to your website if they run into this roadblock, and they most likely will never return.
How to Fix and Benefit from Error 404 Page Not Found
The platform I use to run my WordPress site is Rainmaker and I discovered there is a built-in feature to automatically re-direct any site visitor from an invalid page address to a landing page of my design .
(Rainmaker Platform has a built-in landing page creator too – here’s a summary of my favorite features of this all-in-one solution for entrepreneurs.)
To truly benefit from an Error 404 Page Not Found message, I recommend creating a “Page Not Found” landing page that becomes an opt in page for your mailing list. Here is my example and a screen shot:
Once you’ve created your landing page, simply go to Settings / Content from your Rainmaker Dashboard and then scroll down to the 404 Page section and select the page name you gave your landing page.
In my case, I literally gave the page name “Page Not Found” so that when anyone uses an invalid page address, they will be redirected to https://gracefulresources.com/page-not-found/.
You can again check out the landing page directly from this actual web address (https://gracefulresources.com/page-not-found/) or you can try out any invalid address for my website (e.g. https://gracefulresources.com/not-a-real-page/) and see how the infamous 404 error message is now fixed with an extra benefit!
Other Solutions to Error 404 Page Not Found
If you are using other software comparable to the Rainmaker Platform as the foundation for your online business, I encourage you to investigate whether there is a similar feature to re-direct any broken page links.
If you have a standard WordPress site, there appears to be a couple plugins available to address the infamous Error 404, but I strongly encourage you to test any plugins first in a staging environment for your website (the WordPress hosting service I use for my non-Rainmaker clients is WP Engine and it has a great built-in staging environment for customers.)
Another solution to consider is LeadPages which has a landing page template for the very purpose of converting a page not found problem into an opt in opportunity.
The Ironic Benefit of Error 404 Page Not Found
Thanks to technology, a broken page link on your website is no longer a bad thing if you set up a solution that instantly turns the error into an opportunity to promote your business and grow your mailing list.
Hope this helps,
I’m here to take away the pain of figuring out how to use new web technologies so you can gracefully profit online from your passion in life.