There’s no place like Home … unless you are automatically redirected to a website’s Home page and you don’t know why.
So a customer wants to purchase Widget A from your website; however, Widget A no longer exists and there’s no suitable replacement. Now what?
If you think sending this customer directly to the Home page without explanation is the right thing to do, think again. You should never under any circumstance redirect a customer to your Home page without warning. Okay, maybe there are a few exceptions, but generally avoid it unless you have a really good reason.
Automatically creating a 301 redirect to the Home page is not only an outdated method, but it creates an unexpected and confusing result. When a customer is diverted to a Home page without explanation, questions like “What happened?” and “Why am I here?” disrupt the shopping experience, break trust, and ultimately end in lost sales opportunities.
Sometimes, allowing a 404 page to remain for a discontinued product is the right thing to do, but you can soften the blow. Including a search box or a list of popular categories along with a brief explanation as to the product’s lack of availability are good alternatives.
Swerve Redirects: An Ounce of Prevention
When it comes to managing your 404 errors, the best thing you can do is to stay on top of them. Using an app like Swerve Redirects for BigCommerce keeps you updated by monitoring and reporting all 404 errors on your website, both internal (errors generated from within your site) and external (errors generated from other sites pointing to your site).
Creating appropriate 301 redirects as soon as possible creates the best user experience. Not only does Swerve help you find your 404 errors, it makes searching and editing your existing 301 redirects a breeze.
To learn more about 404 errors and 301 redirects, check out our article, “Best Practices for Managing Ecommerce 404 Error Pages.”
Evelyn Bai is the Digital Marketing Strategist at Inkblot Digital. She’s a passionate improvement addict and info geek who seeks to improve the world and ecommerce one little post at a time.