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					Title: Customize those error pages!

Word Count: 1092

Summary: Whether you know it or not, you may be losing visitors every day. These are
visitors that could be potential customers, contributors, or partners to your business. The
most frustrating part is that you are not losing these visitors to competitors, but to dead
links or improperly coded links.

Keywords: custom error pages,webmaster tutorials,.htaccess tutorials,404 error,403
error,500 error,custom apache error,webmaster resources,webmaster articles

Article Body: Let me ask you this question. How many times have you made changes to
the page structure of your site? Ten times? 100 times? 1000 times? If you have a large
site, the number of changes can grow rapidly. This is especially true if you deal with
dynamic sites that are driven by a complex scripting language and a database.

Now let me ask you one more question. How many times have you "fat fingered" the
keyboard when typing code? I cannot speak for anyone else, but I do it all the time. Now,
what happens when you are coding hundreds or thousands of lines of code? Are you
going to catch that one little mistake, or are your clients going to catch it?

So, what happens when a link is no longer active on your site, or when you "fat finger"
while typing your code and a link cannot be found? Error pages are generated. The most
common of these is the 404 error. This error is generated by your web server software to
let the end user know that it cannot find the file specified. The big issue here is that this
page does not include a link back to your site. And unless you are the server
administrator, it may not include your email address, in which case the end user cannot
notify you of the dead link.

There is a new trend among hosting providers to capitalize on your dead links. That's
right. They are making money from pages that don't exist on your site! You might think
this concept is silly, but I assure you, there is big money in error pages. Just think about
how many times a day end-users might "fat finger" typing in URLs. Let's just say it
happens 1,000 times per day (and I'm probably being conservative here). Now multiply
that by an average of $0.10 per click for the credit the host receives when the end-user
starts browsing their "convenience page". If you are quick at math, you figured out that
that equals $100 per day! Now, if you take into consideration the size of the Internet and
start scaling this figure accordingly, you can easily see where this is a seven-figure

What can you do about this? How can you stop your web host from profiting from your
visitors without your permission? How can you start getting a piece of this very lucrative
pie? The answer is really quite simple.
Most web hosting providers will allow you to customize at least a minimal subset of the
configuration parameters of the web server for your hosting account. I'm going to show
you exactly how to do this for Apache, the most common web server application on the
Internet. Similar steps can be taken for IIS or any other web server application, but I trust
that you can use Google™ to find those specific commands.

Ok, the first thing you want to do is come up with a template for your error pages. I
suggest you use the basic layout of your site so you can maintain a sense of consistency.

Next, you will need to decide what content to display on the page. You should let your
visitors know that they have stumbled across a dead link, but you also want to provide a
streamlined method for them to find their way back to your site. I recommend using the
appropriate error message in the page title and at the beginning of the page using h1 tags.
You should append a description of the error message to your page title and display this
description using h2 tags in your page.


<html> <head> <title>Error 404: The page you are looking for was not
found</title> </head> <body> <h1>Error 404</h1>
</h2>The page you are looking for was not found. Please check the URL and try
again.</h2> </body> </html>

Now you need to provide a easy "one-click" path to your website. This can be
accomplished using a simple text link in the page footer.


<html> <head> <title>Error 404: The page you are looking for was not
found</title> </head> <body> <h1>Error 404</h1>
</h2>The page you are looking for was not found. Please check the URL and try
again.</h2> To return to the [Company Name] homepage, click <a
href="">here</a>. </body> </html>

Now, upload your template as error404.html to your website's root directory (usually

To get the above template to function correctly when a user comes across an invalid link,
all you need to do is create a .htaccess file, using your favorite plain text editor, with the
following line in it and place it in the root directory (usually public_html) of your

ErrorDocument 404
For each error type you wish to provide a custom page for, simply repeat the above steps,
adjusting the file name and ErrorDocument statement appropriately. To gather a complete
list of server response codes, search Google™ for "Apache error codes". (Adjust as
needed for your server software.)

As you can see, this process is extremely simple and only takes about five minutes. If you
are good with HTML and you have a Google AdSense™ account and other affiliate
accounts, you can easily customize your template to include your AdSense™ search
box and your affiliate links. If you are really savvy, you can use a free script like CaRP
(RSS to HTML converter) to provide relevant content on your error pages and further
enhance the likelihood of driving the end-user to your site.

Of course, if you are not that good with HTML but still want to retain your customers,
there is hope. I've created a very clean template that does all of the above for you. All you
have to do is update a few variables in the code and you are ready to go. Simply go to my
site and search for MyErrorPages. It's a free script that you are welcome to use on as
many sites as you like.

Now that you see how easy it is to customize your error pages and retain your valuable
visitors, what are you doing here still? Customize those error pages!

Marijan Stefanovic Marijan Stefanovic Digital Imagery
About Publisher, Web, PC, Marketing, Blogging, Social Networks & More * Please be open minded while reviewing this data, further research is suggested. This documents and articles are in "as is" form, I can not take responsibility for financial or physical harm occurred while using or misuse of information posted, thanks for understanding, Marijan