With Spring slowly pecking away at the remains of Winter across the Horicon Marsh, I started to notice a trend on my website stats. I was starting to get more referrals from a website called EnjoyHoriconMarsh.com to my Horicon Marsh Photography. At first I was happy to see new and repeat visitors coming from that website, I noticed another trend, my Bounce Rate for that referral.
Let me explain what a Bounce Rate is before we go too much further into detail. According to Google Analytics a “Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance, landing page.” It’s a very short but descriptive statement, but what does that mean to a website owner. To sum it up, your “landing” page does not contain the information that a visitor was looking for, so they quickly left your site, without taking the time, to look for that content.
So when I noticed the high Bounce Rate I was getting, I dug deeper to find out that EnjoyHoriconMarsh.com had outdated links for my content in which my referrals were getting 404 File Not Found pages. So I sprung into action and contacted the Website Owner and requested that they updated the links with the ones I provided. Much to my surprise and a month later, no such changes have been made!
With that it caused me to become creative. I tried htaccess redirects to control the URL’s of those incoming sites but I still ran into 404 issues. I tried to recreate the pages but found they just didn’t work with my WordPress framework. With running out of options I thought, why not turn my 404 page into a wealth of knowledge and other suggestions for content. So I put my plan into action by redesigning my 404 page to include a giant h2 tag that reads Horicon Marsh Photographs as well as including links to my ten most recent articles.
Boom! And just like that my Bounce rate took a 75% drop! Since the pages related to the Horicon Marsh were the only ones hitting 404 pages, I wish I could say that it helped across the board but I am sure it will.
So take away from this that with proper in site into what your visitors are looking at and what they are not getting to, you can take those 404 pages and turn them into something useful rather than something feared.