How to Eliminate Common Dead End Pages on Your Site
When it comes to your website, think of it as your company’s house. Your home page is the front door and each internal page is a room with links and internal doors that lead to other rooms. The only difference with a website though, is that visitors don’t always have to come through the front door, all the pages with URLs can be indexed and used as an entry point.
For this exact reason, it is important to make sure that every single page has at least one internal link or call to action, so that it doesn’t become a dead end and leave your visitors with nothing to do next and no where to go. Any page that has no navigation or links will result in visitors only being able to move away from the page by clicking on the “back” button or exiting the site completely.
Orphan pages are even worse than dead ends, as they are not even linked to by any other pages on the site and therefore can only be reach using a direct URL. They can be created on purpose if a developer wants to show someone a private page, but the majority of the time they are usually created by accident.
Here are a few examples of some common dead end pages your website may be suffering from without you even realising it:
Broken links can easily occur, whether you think you have your whole site correctly linking or not. There may still be the odd link to blog posts that no longer exist, or staff members that no longer work for you. The key is to have a good 404 error page.
Having a good 404 page shows creativity and communication, as you want to be linking the visitor back to another working page and encouraging them to keep looking around your site. It is important to give visitors an obvious path to take once they hit an error page.
Author pages help give the reader a little bit of a background into the person who wrote the blog post they have been looking at. It’s a great way to demonstrate the character behind a piece of writing and help an audience connect with someone who writes content on your site.
But what happens once the visitor lands on the author page? Is that it? You need to make sure that you provide links to other blog posts that the author has written and also a link to other members of the team or authors on the blog. This way the visitor can get a good feel for your team and anyone who writes blog posts.
If you have a search function on your website, then people are going to use it. A lot of the time people use the search function if they cannot obviously see what they are looking for on your home page.
This most likely means that there is a chance what they are looking for doesn’t actually exist, in which case they will end up on a search result page that says, “No results found”. If this is the case, then you need to have some links back to other potential categories or related search results.
Many people may land on your site through your blog posts, so they are a great “in” to the rest of your site. Blog posts are a great way to encourage visitors to move through your site, either to another blog post through a “relevant content” section with links, or to the team page or services.
Each post that you write should send the reader to another part of your site or at least engage them with comments and calls to action, so ensure you have an obvious route for the reader to take when they finish reading the post.
When someone has completed a purchase on your site, it is all well and good to have a message that thanks them for their custom, but what are they going to do next? If you don’t give them any option, then they will just exit your site.
Provide them with links to similar products or maybe a link to a relevant blog post. Another option is to send them to a newsletter sign up page or request that they make an account with you – it is important to make the most of them being on your site.
Ensuring you have no dead end pages is important, as you want to encourage movement around your site as much as possible. Use your analytics to track the paths visitors take and find out which pages have the highest exit rate. Every page should give your visitors an obvious option of what to do and where to go next, as this gives the visitor a better experience on your site and a clear path to follow.