404 error page

You’ve spent a lot of time building and optimizing a great ad campaign. You’ve verified that your landing page loads fast and looks great on all devices. And, hopefully, you’re also performing CRO (conversion rate optimization) to continuously improve your conversion performance. But what if those ad clicks don’t always end up on your landing page? You’re suddenly spending big bucks for those clicks that go nowhere fast! It happens, and it is an absolute performance killer!

Today we’re going to look at different options and best practices to ensure your visitors get to where they are supposed to be going.

Verify and/or Test Ad URLs

This seems obvious, but we often see campaigns with URLs that don’t point to the right page. Virtually all major ad platforms allow you to click-through your own ads. If you have a small campaign it is an easy matter to click on each of your ads’ and verify you end up on the right page. If you have a lot of campaigns and ad groups consider exporting your finished ads to Excel. You can simply sort your destination URL field and scan each group to verify they all match. Click through to each unique URL and you’ll be finished in no time.

Website Monitoring Tools

These tools will monitor your website and/or specific pages to ensure they are up and loading at nominal speeds. If your page goes down or is loading slowly the service will send you a notification via email or text so you can take appropriate action.

A simple free solution is offered by Uptimerobot.com. The service will ping your pages every 30-minutes and send you a report if there is no server response or other errors. If you need more frequent monitoring (like every minute) or other enhancements they offer paid options starting from about $10/month. Don’t like Monitis? Check out the solution from Pindom.com; no free plans but they do offer a 14-day free trial.

AdWords Link Checker Script

If you primarily use AdWords as your weapon of choice, there is a great script available to test your URLs. The script runs on a schedule and will check up to 20,000 urls in a single run. If you have more than 20,000 urls (that’s a lot) the script will continue where it left off in the next scheduled run.

The script is loaded with options like email notifications settings, run frequency, whether to test paused ads, and more. It’s available for both single user accounts and MCCs, note there are two different versions.

Get the AdWords Link Checker Script and instructions here.

Custom 404 Page

Building a custom 404 page for your website is a no-brainer. If you sell one product or service, you may even simply drop a copy of your primary landing page in as your 404. That way, any stray traffic will end up on a page that will likely generate some conversions.

WordPress Options

If you use WordPress you can find your existing 404 page under Appearance/Editor as 404.php. Edit the file in-line or paste in your new page content. If that’s too complicated you may also want to check out the WordPress 404 Page Plugin from Smartware.

Another great option is to use Instapage to build your custom 404 page. Here’s their blog post that explains how it works. For full disclosure, Ten Thousand Foot View is an Instapage user and affiliate.

HTML Options

Don’t use WordPress?  Here’s what you need to do. Create your custom 404-page using plain old html. Save that page on your server in the “www” directory; call it 404page.html. Next, find your “.htaccess” file and open it up. Add this line of code:

ErrorDocument 404 http://www.domain.com/404page.html

[IMPORTANT: replace “domain” with your own domain]

Voila!

Summary

Whether you spend $10 or $10,000 a day on digital, ensuring your visitors end up on the right/working page is an imperative. This article explains just a few ways you can accomplish this important, and often overlooked goal. How do you do it? Comment below and let us know.

Think it’s time to outsource your Search Marketing needs? Here’s what we offer to our SEO clients.