Optimizing 404 Pages for Ecommerce Sites

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Dead links are common on ecommerce sites. The combination of aging product inventory, changing CMS and database platforms, marketing promotion landing pages, etc. leave ecommerce sites with URLs that just don’t go anywhere anymore. You’ve hopefully already figured out if you should delete old products from your website (or not) and have found a way to effectively manage old products, but some people are still going to get 404 pages anyways. Here’s how to turn those errors into profit.

Make Sure You Have a Custom 404 Page

If you do not have a custom error page in place, people will likely end up seeing something like this:

Make sure you have a custom 404 page

That’s a terrible user experience and also a missed opportunity to keep your prospective sale. Default CMS templates have come a long way and now many do have a default template page in place, but if you don’t edit that default page you might end up with something like this:

If your CMS template has a default error page, make sure you update the information.


If someone isn’t really paying attention they might just click the back button and not notice that this page is full of filler content that was never updated. If they do try to use the content on the page, they’re not likely to find what they’re looking for as the links and contact information have never been updated from the default.

But your page is already better than these. You just want to improve it, right?

Keep Your Main Template Elements

How do people navigate your site? Keep those options present on your error page!

  • Keep your top level navigation
  • Keep contact information obvious
  • Allow site search
  • Provide quick links to social media

Include key navigation options on your 404 page.

With these in place there are very few reasons why a visitor wouldn’t be able to find what they intended to on your site (assuming these features work and you offer what they want).

You may also want to show off some of your new products, best sellers, popular categories, or high margin items that people are often looking for on your site:

404 pages can be an opportunity to promote new products or popular items on your ecommerce site.

Make Your Error Page Fun

Aside from ways to optimize your error page for upsells and ecommerce conversions, you can edit it to have fun, too. Here are a few examples of well branded and light hearted error pages on ecommerce sites:


Lego 404 error page. 


GitHub 404 error page. 


MailChimp 404 error page. 

And my personal favourite, Raven Tools

Raven 404 error page.


Whether you opt for a more traditional 404 page or take the opportunity to promote a product or have a little fun, make sure that your error page is clear and easy to navigate so that you don't annoy (or worse, lose) prospective clients.

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About Author

David Ward
David Ward

Dave is the CEO + Founder of Meticulosity and a serial entrepreneur who has spent his 20+ year professional career as an agency owner in digital marketing and web development space.

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