Custom 404 page
A 404 page is the page that a site visitor sees when trying to reach a page that does not exist on your website. They may have just mistyped the URL, or it could be that another site linked to a page on your site that no longer exists. There are a variety of reasons for a 404 error, but no matter the reason, your site should have a custom 404 page in place to deal with 404 errors.
In some instances, a 404 error page is going to be someone’s first impression of your site, so make it a good one. Instead of a blank white screen that simply says “404 Not Found”, you can create a custom 404 page that has the same look and feel as the other pages on your site. This page should help direct visitors to the information they were initially looking for.
You can offers links to your homepage as well as other important pages on your site. You could also include links to your most popular blog posts and also provide a way for them to report the broken link. In the example below, Microsoft offers some “Top Destinations” options as well as an internal search feature to further help people find what they were looking for.
Internet users are tired of static, boring websites with no opportunity to interact. Visitors to your site want to be able to engage with you and with each other. Think about the most successful websites on the Internet today such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. What do all of these sites have in common? They all allow visitors to interact and engage with each other, to comment, to share ideas, stories, solutions, emotions, etc. For certain sites, it may make more sense for this interaction to take place on some of your social networks, but your website should still be the connection point to the social networks you’re active on.
Keep in mind that you can’t expect people to flock to your site and interact with you and others unless you give them content that is worth talking about. To produce great content, you first need to understand who your audience is and then create content your target audience will like so much that they can’t help but talk about it. As the site owner, you should come out from behind the scenes and actually join in the conversation. If someone comments on one of your blog posts, respond to their comment. If people are having a conversation on your site, join in. If someone tweets out your latest blog posts, thank them for the tweet and start following them on Twitter.
Calls to Action
When people land on your homepage or other page of your site, what do you want them to do? What is the goal for that page and where do you want them to go from there? Whatever your goal is, help the visitors take the action you want them to take by placing clear calls to action on your key pages. An example of a good call to action would be “Learn how to improve your search rankings by downloading our eBook today!
The call to action should also stand out from the other text and images on the page as in the example below.
Getting a lot of traffic to your site is great, but what good is that traffic if everyone that comes to your site just checks out a few pages and products and then vanishes back into cyberspace? Most people do not convert on their first visit to a site, and you need some way to capture at least an email from them so that you can slowly gain their trust, nature the relationship, and eventually turn them into an actual customer or client.
Make sure your lead capture form is not longer than it needs to be. Most people are turned off by long forms with several fields to fill in. Just capture the very basic information you need, and offer them something in return for completing your lead capture form because people like to be rewarded. And to entice them even more, include some trust elements such as the current download count, an anti-spam statement, testimonials, and other customers’ logos.
Never underestimate the value of lists of visitors to your site. These lists can be one of the most valuable assets a site owner owns, so put effective lead capture systems in place to capture basic contact information from your site visitors.
A good website should include analytics tracking to help study and analyze a site’s traffic. A wealth of important and useful information can be found through analytics research. There are some free analytics options such as Google Analytics as well as more robust paid options such as Adobe SiteCatalyst. For the average website, Google Analytics provides sufficient data and analysis and is very user friendly and easy to set up.
Analytics can provide you with insight such as the number of visitors you had over a specific period of time, your average bounce rate, average visitor’s time on site, what keyword searches brought traffic to your site, and lots of other useful and important data.
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