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How to optimize 404 page in WordPress? (Driving Conversions & Sales)

404 page
Is your WordPress 404 page just a dead end or a missed opportunity? What if I tell you that those seemingly pesky “404 – Page Not Found” errors on your WordPress site could be your secret weapons for driving conversions and boosting sales?

An optimized WordPress 404 page can effectively redirect lost visitors toward tailored content and seamlessly navigate them back into your website’s sales funnel. 

In this post, we’ll discuss the ways into the art of turning 404 not found error pages into strategic assets. But before we delve into the strategies, it’s essential to grasp the significance of enhancing your WordPress 404 page. So, let’s take a moment to explore why investing time in improving your WordPress 404 page is important.

Why do you need to improve your WordPress 404 Page? ?

Your WordPress 404 page holds more significance than you might think. When visitors encounter a “404 Page Not Found” error, it’s like hitting a dead end on their journey through your site. However, this seemingly negative experience can be transformed into a positive one with some effective optimization.

A poorly designed or standard 404 page can frustrate visitors, leading them to abandon your site altogether which further negatively affects your WordPress SEO. In contrast, an optimized 404 page can keep users engaged by guiding them back to relevant content, showcasing your brand’s personality, and providing clear navigation options. A well-designed or optimized 404 page is an extension of your brand and maintains consistency and professionalism, while a generic one might challenge credibility.

Moreover, the potential for conversions is significant. Strategic placement of calls-to-action, popular content links, or exclusive offers can transform a lost visitor into a subscriber or customer. This seemingly small page can have a big impact on your overall website goals.

How to optimize 404 Page in WordPress?

In this blog, we are going to discuss two easy methods to improve the 404 not found page- using the plugin and using code. We’ll discuss each one in detail. So, let’s start-

Creating a 404 Page not found page using a plugin

Elementor Website Builder – More than Just a Page Builder – WordPress plugin WordPress org (1) Creating a custom 404 page in WordPress using Elementor is a straightforward process. Elementor is a popular page builder plugin that allows users to design and customize various pages on your WordPress site, including the 404 error page. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide for you to follow-

  1. Install and Activate Elementor: If you haven’t already, install and activate the Elementor plugin from the WordPress plugin repository. You can do this simply by clicking on “Plugins” > “Add New” in your WordPress dashboard and searching for “Elementor.”

  2. Create a New Page: Go to “Pages” > “Add New” to create a new page. You can name it something like “404 Page” or “Page Not Found.”

  3. Edit with Elementor: Click on the “Edit with Elementor” button to launch the Elementor editor for your new page.

  4. Select a Section Template: Elementor provides pre-designed templates for various sections, including 404 error pages. Click on the “Add Template” button to access the template library.

  5. Search for 404 Templates: In the template library, use the search bar to look for 404 error page templates. Type in “404” or “Page Not Found” to find relevant options.

  6. Select a Template: Elementor provides a variety of page designs to choose from. Select a 404-error page template that you like.
  7. Customize the Template: Once you’ve chosen a template, it’s time to personalize it. You’ll be able to customize it using the Elementor editor. You can edit text, images, colors. Also, you can choose the layout elements to match your website’s branding and design.
  8. Save and Publish: After making your desired changes, click the “Save” button in the bottom-left corner of the Elementor editor. Then, click the “Publish” button to make your custom 404 page live on your website.
  9. Set the 404 Page as Default: To make your newly created 404 page the default error page for your website, you’ll need to adjust your site’s settings. You can use a plugin like “404page – your smart custom 404 error page” to set your custom 404 page as the default error page. This plugin often offers an option to set your custom 404 page within its settings.
  10. Test Your 404 Page: Now as the 404 Page template is edited; you need to ensure that everything is working correctly. You can test your custom 404 page by entering a non-existent URL on your website and seeing if the customized page is displayed.
Creating a custom 404 page using Elementor provides you with the flexibility to design a unique and engaging error page that aligns with your website’s overall look and feel.

Creating 404 Page using code

When you want to customize 404 page in WordPress using code, you need to modify your theme’s files to display a unique error page when a “404 – Page Not Found” error occurs. 

It’s important to keep in mind that errors in your code can lead to typical WordPress issues or potentially disrupt your website’s functionality. Thus, this approach is not advised for those who are new to coding. 

Furthermore, taking precautionary measures by backing up your site before implementing this method is strongly recommended because it provides a safety net in case something wrong happens to your WordPress site.

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Access Your Theme Files: Log in to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to “Appearance” > “Theme Editor.” Select your active theme from the list of available themes.
  2. Create a New Template File: In the Theme Editor, you’ll see a list of files on the right-hand side. If your theme doesn’t already have a custom 404 template, you’ll need to create one. Usually, you’d create a file called 404.php and if your theme has a 404.php file already, you can edit that.
  3. Add Custom Code: Within the 404.php file, you’ll need to add the code that will be displayed when a 404 error occurs. You can use HTML, CSS, and even PHP to customize the page. 

Here’s a basic example:

<?php get_header(); ?>

<div id=”primary” class=”content-area”>

    <main id=”main” class=”site-main”>

        <section class=”error-404 not-found”>

            <header class=”page-header”>

                <h1 class=”page-title”>Oops! That page can’t be found.</h1>


            <div class=”page-content”>

                <p>It looks like nothing was found at this location. Try searching below.</p>

                <?php get_search_form(); ?>





<?php get_footer(); ?>

In this example, the code displays a header, a message, and a search form when a 404 error occurs.

  1. Save Changes: After adding your custom code, click the “Update File” button to save the changes.
  2. Test Your Custom 404 Page: To test your custom 404 page, you can intentionally enter a URL that does not exist on your website. You should see your customized error page instead of the default one.

Final Thoughts

Creating a custom 404 page using code gives you full control over the design and content. An optimized 404 page not just improves customer engagement but can be a game-changer in driving conversions and boosting sales. However, if you’re not comfortable working with code and also using plugins, hiring a WordPress expert could be a wise option. We would love to help you. Moreover, if you need any other support in WordPress customization, we can do that too.

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