Aug 20, 2008 113 reads by Navneet Kaushal

Since last week Google has been discussing about the 'Response Code 404' and how it impacts the Webmasters. We had covered a post of the '404 Week' where Google's Maile Ohye explained what exactly is a '404 code'.

Now via the Google Webmaster Central Blog, Sahala Swenson of the Google Webmaster Tools team speaks about the ways through which Webmasters can refine the appearance of the '404' code for the website visitors. There are three primary reasons for the occurrence of such a code. These are:

  1. A mistyped URL, or a copy-and-paste mistake.
  2. Broken or truncated links on web pages or in an email message.
  3. Moved or deleted content.

When a visitor is faced with such a code, then ideally he would click the 'Back' button or he would simply leave your website entirely and move on to another website in the vast world of the Internet. However, in order to provide the Webmasters with more means of making a 404 page useful, Google has finally added a new widget in the Google Webmasters Tools, and has termed it as "Enhance 404 pages." According to Sahala, “If you've created a custom 404 page this allows you to embed a widget in your 404 page that helps your visitors find what they're looking for by providing suggestions based on the incorrect URL.”

404 pages

Here is an example put forth by Sahala Swenson:

Example: Jamie receives the link in an email message. Because of formatting due to a bad email client, the URL is truncated to As a result it returns a 404 page. With the 404 widget added, however, she could instead see the following:

404 pages

Along with URL correctional abilities, the 404 widget is also capable of suggesting the following means, if applicable:

  1. a link to the parent subdirectory.
  2. a sitemap webpage.
  3. site search query suggestions and search box.

Here is how you can add the 404 Widget:

“Visit the "Enhance 404 pages" section in Webmaster Tools, which allows you to generate a JavaScript snippet. You can then copy and paste this into your custom 404 page's code. As always, don't forget to return a proper 404 code.”

However, with all the help that Google is trying to provide, it still states that, “This feature is currently experimental. We might not provide corrections and suggestions for your site but we'll be working to improve the coverage.”

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal
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