Restoring Broken Pages

Another way to fix 404 errors is by restoring the broken page into a working page on your website. Like ignoring a 404, restoring a broken page is rarely the best solution, but it can be an effective for certain types of 404 errors.

Typically, though you'd fix a 404 error by redirecting the broken URL to another page on your site. Or, if the 404 is accessible from a broken link on your site, you'd correct the broken link.

Why Would You Restore A 404?

The easiest way to explain is by example. Let's walk through two examples, each offering different reasons for restoring a 404 error.

Example #1: News Website

A news website removed several hundred old news articles from their site. These articles were more than three years old and contained outdated information. As a result, the publishers of the new site assumed none of these articles were of interest to their visitors (and, therefore, were not getting any visits).

After installing SpringTrax, the publishers discovered that some of those removed articles were still being visited by a few hundred visitors each month. Because most people leave after reaching a not found error, this cost the news site hundreds of visitors and a significant amount of ad revenue. They knew fixing these 404 errors would result in a better experience for their visitors and an increase in ad revenue.

To fix these 404s, the publishers were able to redirect the majority of the removed stories that were getting visited. Following recommendations from SpringTrax, they found other similar stories to redirect those old stories to. By redirecting the majority of the broken pages, the publishers were able to give visitors the news they were interested in and regain some ad revenue in the process.

However, about a dozen of the old stories getting visits had no place they could be redirected. So, instead of redirecting those articles, the news site restored those old articles. By doing so, they regained visitors (sending them to an article, instead of an error page) and regained lost ad revenue.

Example #2: Online Retailer

Another examples comes from an online retail store. They removed a few pages from their site during the latest redesign. A few of the removed pages were dedicated to discussing products that this site no longer carried.

After installing SpringTrax following the redesign the managers of the website discovered (via SpringTrax) that these old product pages still were getting visitors.

The visitors were expecting to find information about a product and likely wanted to buy that product. But, because the product page had been removed, the visitors now encountered an error message saying the page for this product could not be found.

Once they realized how many visitors were still looking for these old products, the managers of the website realized that these errors were costing them dozens of sales every week. This cost them hundreds of dollars every week as well.

Instead of redirecting to a different product, the retailer created a page for each old product located at the same URL. The page explained why this retailer no longer carried those old products. In most cases, the reason was due to safety concerns related to changes the manufacturer had made. The retailer wanted to take this opportunity to educate their visitors and customers. Along with the explanation, the retailer provided links to alternative products available for purchase on their site.

This had two positive effects. First, the retailer saw an increase in sales for the alternative products suggested. Second, the retailer also saw an increase in customer satisfaction because of how they explained the situation and offered to educate their customers.

When To Restore

Review your 404 errors and see if there are any 404s where you can create a working page to fix the 404. Typically, this will happen when there is no good place to redirect to, but when there is still an opportunity to satisfy your customers who are visiting your website.


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