People tend to underestimate how big a problem 404 errors can be. One of the reasons for that is that people think "hardly any of my visitors reach a 404 error."
Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Not found errors affect every site, including yours. Some percent of your visitors are reaching your site's 404 error page and leaving your site because of that 404 error.
In fact, we've seen an average of 1.17% of visitors reach a 404 page. In other words, a little over 1 out of every 100 people who visit your site will reach your 404 error page.
Let's say you get an average of 5,000 people visiting your site every month. That is about 50-60 people who are reaching your site's 404 error every month.
However, the problem isn't that people visit a 404. Instead, the problem is that 74% of the people who see a 404 error will leave your site for good because of that 404 error.
So, if you have 5,000 visitors every month and 50-60 visitors reaching a 404, you could actually be losing around 40-50 visitors every month. That is 40-50 potential customers leaving your site every month.
Our theory is that you worked really hard (and spent money, no doubt) getting people to visit your site. You don't want to lose any of those visitors you worked so hard to get.
Of course, that 1.17% is just an average. We've seen that larger sites that have been around the web longer tend to have more visitors reaching a 404 error page. This is largely due to the fact that larger sites remove old content and change URLs more often than smaller, newer sites.
As one example of this, a larger site started using SpringTrax a month ago. The company managing this site was convinced 404s didn't affect their visitors. Unfortunately, that company realized that nearly 13% of their traffic was reaching a 404 error page and that 78% of those visitors were leaving their site.
In their case, they were losing nearly 10,000 visitors every month due to 404 errors. This was a huge problem that they did not know was happening on their website.
Ultimately, our goal at SpringTrax is to help you know whether or not 404s are a problem for your site and for your business. This number is a large part of that. If 404s are affecting less than 1% of your visitors, then you might not have a huge problem to worry about with 404s. On the other hand, if 1 out of every 5 visitors is reaching a 404, you have a huge problem that you need to fix immediately.