Google Builds Custom 404 Fixing Widget

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-08-19 Print this article Print

Google makes some useful widgets that we can use for our iGoogle custom home pages.

Today the search company may have scored a great coup in the battle of broken links, mistyped URLs, broken Web page links and deleted content with a custom widget that lets Web site owners help their visitors find what they are looking for.

Called "Enhance 404 pages," this feature in Google Webmaster Tools lets site owners embed a widget in a custom 404 page that helps their visitors find what they're looking for by providing suggestions based on the incorrect URL.

Google notes an example in a blog post in which user Jamie receives the link "" in an e-mail message. Thanks to a bad e-mail client, the URL is truncated to, which returns a 404 page.

With the 404 widget added, however, she could instead see a suggestion offering the correct URL she was looking to access, as well as a link to the parent subdirectory; a sitemap Web page; and site search query suggestions and search box.

This is what it looks like.
To add this custom widget, go to the "Enhance 404 pages" section in Webmaster Tools, which allows you to generate a JavaScript snippet. You can then copy and paste this into your custom 404 page's code.

Google has also provided a guide on how to customize the look of the 404 widget here.

Such a tool is a no-brainer for site owners. Think about it. What do you do when you stumble upon a 404 page?

I know I used to check the URL and retype it if it was wrong, but in the wake of so many bookmarks or other navigational tools, I tend to click the back button or just flat-out exit a site I'm trying to access. There are millions of people who do the same.

This custom 404 widget won't prevent 404s, but it can help site owners help users better find their sites. |

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