Category: Research

Blogger Custom 404 Page

There have been a lot of complaints in Blogger help forums about the lack of a custom 404 (File not found) error page.  This is a big issue, not just for user experience, but also SEO.  Of course, if you’re overly concerned with SEO, then you’re probably not using Blogger in the first place.

However, if Blogger wants to be a serious contender in the blog CMS field, it should give us necessary features. Many improvements have come recently, but have mostly focused on design.  There are still issues with site architecture that haven’t been addressed.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any real way of creating a custom 404 page for your Blogger-powered blog.  If you’re on the blogspot.com, domain, then you’ll always be limited to the simple, Blogger 404.

Lame.

Not only are your users thrown out of your blog’s beautiful design onto a boring error page, but you’ll never be aware of this.  Your analytics code isn’t on this page, and Blogger doesn’t report the 404s to you.  You could have incorrect backlinks out there, and won’t realize it.

If these links do exist, then they’re sending PageRank to this 404 page.  The majority is probably being sent back to your blog’s index via the two prominent links.  But in the footer is a plethora of Blogger links, also stealing that wayward PageRank.
Solution
There is a solution.  It requires you get off of the blogspot.com domain and have your own hosting.  Not a free solution.  Domains aren’t too expensive, and you only need the most minimal of hosting, as you just need the 404 page.
Once you have this, you’ll need to set your domain up to have two subdomains.  One for the blog, and one for the 404 page.  If you already have your domain split up into blog.domain.com and www.domain.com, then this is easy.  If your site is a blog and nothing else, then you might want www.domain.com to be pointing to Blogger and use something like hosting.domain.com to point to your web server.
Now, once you have this worked out, you can create a custom 404 page however you’d like.  Make a web page on your hosting server.  Give it the design you want, add Google Analytics to it and throw in any other features you want.  It’s not exactly integrated with your blog, but it’s customizable.  (If you don’t know how to do this, comment and maybe I’ll write a tutorial on custom 404s.  However, there is plenty of information out there on this stuff, so you can Google it.)
Test your 404 page by going to hosting.domain.com/randomtext and see if you get the page you created.  If so, you’re ready to update your Blogger settings.  
Under Settings > Publishing, you’ll see the option to “use a missing files host”.  This will redirect any 404 to a different subdomain.  So, if someone goes to blog.domain.com/nonexistent, they’ll be sent to www.domain.com/nonexistent, which will trigger your custom 404 page. 
These settings are advanced

That’s it.  You now have a custom 404 for your Blogger blog.  For you SEO nuts out there, you’ll be depressed to know this creates a 302 redirect to your missing files host.  It is a same domain 302, which isn’t that bad, though.  If you don’t like it, use Drupal or something.

By on Monday, November 29th, 2010 at 5:41 pm | + = this post

  • Except Nothing Anirudh

    Thanks for the Good Post and my 404 page 404.exceptnothing.com

    • http://blog.clayburngriffin.com/ Clayburn Griffin

      Glad to be of help.  I’d appreciate a mention in your blog post about it.  :)

  • Except Nothing Anirudh

    we could not enter www in the use a missing file host .. 

  • Sas_Kan

    Nice Post, is there more details for SEO Details on a 404 page..

    Regards
    fforfree.net

  • http://irjkz.ru/ irjkz

    thank you

  • MusickTV.com

    I’ve deleted over 1500 posts on my blogger website recently. Now my integrated Google search, and the LinkWithin widget keeps displaying these 404 pages as well. Will Google eventually reindex the blog, so these posts won’t be displayed anymore in either the integrated Google Search and LinkWithin widget?

    Right now this is a major concern, since over 80% of these displayed links are 404 pages. I don’t want to be sending my visitors to non existing pages. Why when I delete these posts, they still keep popping up and don’t simply disappear? 
    My website is hosted on Blogger. Please check http://www.musicktv.com

    Any help or advice would be much appreciated! Thank you in advance!

    • http://blog.clayburngriffin.com/ Clayburn Griffin

      They will eventually go away, but sometimes pages can linger for months, even years, on Google despite not existing. 

  • http://www.officestationery.co.uk/ officestationery

    very good reading, this is my page 
    http://www.officestationery.co.uk/not-found.shtml

  • http://www.masterandstudent.com/ Master And Student

    check out the new features for creating custom 404 pages
    https://plus.google.com/113296486328088389859/posts/NFwwJB7WeW1

  • http://www.xamportal.com/ rohini kumar d

    thank you very much friend.

  • http://www.bloggerhow.com/2012/03/series-on-blogger-search-engine.html Basheer

    Google introduced 404 page..

  • Sonusmac

    Nice post, Thanks!