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What is Error 404 and its Role in Digital Marketing?

Learn all about digital marketing, we have built this glossary to help you understand everything to thrive in online marketing and promoting your website or business.

What is Error 404?
Our journey into the web's not-so-hidden quirks begins with Error 404. Error 404 is an HTTP status code that the server sends to the user when the requested web resource cannot be found. The '404' is essentially the server saying, 'Yes, I'm here, but the page you're looking for isn't.'
Technically, Error 404 is a client-side error, implying that the error is your mistake, not that of the server. This could be because you typed in the URL incorrectly, or the page simply no longer exists. It's a user-friendly way of letting people know about broken links and missing pages.
In the vast expanse of the internet, these errors are quite common. Whether it's a typo in a URL, a deleted web page, or a website restructuring, there's a myriad of reasons for a 404 error to pitch up. But knowing about and understanding these errors is just the beginning. As digital marketers, we have to turn these 'errors' into opportunities.
Error 404's Role in Digital Marketing
Error 404 can negatively impact a website's SEO if not handled correctly. It can harm your search engine ranking by reducing the quality of user experience, which is a major ranking factor for search engines like Google. Therefore, it’s important to closely monitor and promptly fix 404 errors to maintain your SEO ranking.
However, there's also a more positive side to Error 404. They offer an opportunity to be creative and establish a deeper connection with the audience. Through well-crafted and imaginative 404 error pages, brands can express their personality, make people laugh, and turn a negative experience into a positive one.
The role of 404 pages in digital marketing then, is two-fold. On one hand, they pose a threat to SEO ranking. On the other, they present an excellent opportunity to boost brand image, retain visitors, and promote other areas of the website.
Error 404 Examples
Let's look at a few examples of how brands have turned their 404 errors into marketing opportunities: Airbnb has a fun and eye-catching 404 page that helps lessen disappointment and keeps visitors engaged. The New Yorker takes an educational approach, providing a cartoon that gives users a chuckle, softening the blow of not finding what they were looking for.
Huawei offers a selection of different options to get users back on track, executed in a minimalistic, clean style. Lastly, Lego's 404 page is a masterpiece. Depicting a Lego character being confused by a broken map, it turns the frustrating error into a humorous event, keeping the brand's playful personality intact.
These examples highlight how Error 404, often seen as a necessary evil in the digital world, can be harnessed as a creative canvas to promote your brand and keep visitors engaged with your website.