Ok, this is a pretty simple thing to do and it has some important benefits.
Have you ever visited a website or a web page only to find that annoying “Not Found” error message? If so, what did you do? You probably got ticked off, hit the back button and visited another website. Can you imagine someone coming across a “Not Found” error page on your website? Well, if you don’t have a custom 404 “File Not Found” page set up on your website, that might just be happening.
Here is what you need to do to fix this problem and keep your visitors on your website.
The first thing is to create a web page with some sort of message on it. Something like, “Whoops, looks like the page you are looking for isn’t here. Please click this link to visit our home page or our search page…” You get the idea. You can save the page as “404.php” or something similar and upload it to the root of your web server.
Oh, I forgot to mention this. In order to do what I am suggesting here, you need to be running an Apache web server and your web host has to allow changes to your .htaccess file. I am sure there are other ways to create a custom 404 File Not Found error page and get it up and running, but I am only talking about one way here.
Now, open up your .htaccess file and place this code into it somewhere. I like to place it right on top:
ErrorDocument 404 /404.php
I am using .php extensions for this stuff just because of habit and preference. You can use .html or whatever you wish.
Well, that’s basically it. You can now save your .htaccess file and upload it to the server and go see if it worked. Try typing in some page that you know isn’t there. If it works, please read my previous post about “How To Check Your Web Page HTTP Headers & Response Codes” for some important information.