1 Surefire Way To Improve Your Visitor’s Experience

If you’re an owner or developer of an online platform, you probably know just how important it is to serve your visitor’s needs. After all, what good is terrific content if there’s no one there to read it?

It’s often the case when creating an online platform that you should follow the example of Steve Jobs – who was famous in the computing industry for putting the people who used his products first. Jobs, whose personal wealth enabled him to do whatever he wanted with his time, was well-known as a person who (even when profits were already met) would do his best to make sure his product exceeded even the most cynical customer’s expectations.

What can you learn from Steve Jobs when running a website? It’s the simple truth that you ought to optimize our site’s performance to its very best level. Part of that is making sure that all parts of a website are a bit like a Mercedes – a sort of aesthetic experience in addition to a mechanically flawless experience.

Part of what Jobs brought to user’s experience of the products and services that Apple offered was comfort.

If we feel at home with the interface of our computer, or of the website we’re browsing, it’s as though we can identify with that interface.

Think of it as like being in a well decorated hotel room. The furniture is clean, the bed is comfortable, the window offers a nice view. You feel at home – even though you’ll only be there for a short while. So it is with a good website, which offers us a bit of comfort in an often busy and alienating work life.

If you understand this as someone who is running a site, you’ll know that treating customers and clients as we ourselves would like to be treated is one sure way to capture the attention of both the mind and the heart. And for many, engaging with both is the surest way to succeed.

Sounds easy right?

It’s not rocket science, but like anything worth doing, there will be plenty of obstacles you’ll need to overcome before your online platform becomes successful.

The Problem

There are a myriad of common problems that webmasters and product developers make but to keep things simple, this article will focus on one easy to fix, but often overlooked problem – the 404 error.

What’s a 404 error?

The 404 (also known as page not found) error message is a response code indicating that the client (you) was able to communicate with the server (the site you’re visiting), but the server could not find what was requested.

404 errors can happen with both internal and external links and result in a poor visitor experience as well as  increased bounce rates. Both of these are bad things that can be extremely frustrating for webmasters to deal with.  Internal 404 errors are usually easier to deal with since you have greater control over the pages of your site than external sites.

Changing the permalink structure of your site, deleting pages, renaming posts, or linking to content that’s been deleted are all common root causes of 404 errors.

Links are the bread and butter of the web because they are the means by which sites connect to the wider world – they bring you business and traffic, and in turn you help others out when we link to their site. So when links don’t work, the effects can be a bit disappointing. Fortunately, detecting and fixing 404 errors is extremely simple, free of charge, and only takes a few minutes of your time!

The Solution

There are 2 ways to go about detecting and fixing broken links:

  1. If you’re online platform is powered off WordPress, you can simply install a plugin.
  2. If you’re not on WordPress or don’t want to install another plugin, there are a number of free websites that will crawl your website to detect broken links.
Personally, I use and endorse the free WordPress plugin called Broken Link Checker. This link has been fantastic and I’ve used it on multiple sites for a couple of years now. For Income Ideas, it’s especially useful as I have a ton of outbound links to different work at home jobs and I check daily to ensure all those links still work.
Although it’s free of charge, the Broken Link Checker is rich in features. You can choose how often it should check your site’s pages for broken links as well as configure what pages it should check (posts, single pages, category pages, etc). My favorite part of this plugin is that whenever an issue with a link is detected, it will appear on the WordPress admin page with the status and location of the link in question. In addition to to detecting 404 pages, it will also pick up any 501, 503, and other common HTTP response codes.

The second option involves using a web service to crawl your site to check for any broken links. This option is great for webmasters who have sites that aren’t powered by WordPress or those who don’t want to potentially  impact page load times by installing yet another plugin.

Conceptually, this option is the same as the plugin route. You enter your domain name and the site will check each page for broken links. The disadvantage to this method is that large sites may take quite some time to crawl and may end up costing you if you have more than a few thousand pages.

If  you’re interested in this method, I’ve used and recommend Free Broken Link Checker. This site will be free for the majority of users although if you need to crawl more than 3,000 pages or want to export the results in a CSV file, it’ll cost you.

Summary

To wrap things up, although it’s not the most exciting subject matter, checking and fixing internal and external 404 errors is 1 surefire way to improve your visitor’s experience. 404′s are frustrating to both webmasters and visitors and lead to increased bounce rates and lower visitor engagement. Fortunately, detecting or fixing broken links is as easy as installing a plugin or using a free web service.  So if you own an online platform, do yourself a favor and check your site right now for broken links!

I want to hear from you! Do you close a page if you run into a 404 error or do you stick around? Let me know by leaving me a comment below!

 

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