How to Create a Custom 404 for Your WordPress IDX Real Estate Website

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We’ve all encountered them. That pesky notification when the page you are looking for cannot be found online. But did you know your IDX website produces these errors too?

It does, and they can be just as frustrating for your leads as they are for you. In this blog we will introduce you to the 404 page and show you how to customize them on your WordPress IDX real estate website.

What Is a 404 Page?

A 404 page appears when a specific website page is not found. Their purpose is to tell the user that the domain is valid, but nothing exists at the extension they specified. Or more simply, the website is active, but the requested page does not exist.

You will typically see a 404 page if you click on a broken link or if there is a typo in the url extension. If your website includes broken links or complicated urls, some of your leads are probably seeing 404 pages too.

custom 404Why Should I Customize My 404 Page?

Some amount of 404 traffic is inevitable (everyone makes a typo once in a while). But too much and it can start affecting your ability to convert leads.

Leads come to your site because they want information on real estate listings in the area. If they cannot get this information (for whatever reason) they are likely to move on.

Obviously, the best solution is to fix broken links and simplify your url patterns. But you can keep some traffic on your site by customizing your 404 page.

By including useful information on this page, or at least making it memorable, you can keep leads from clicking away.

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Edit the 404.php File

There are a couple of ways to customize the 404 page on your WordPress IDX site. The first involves editing 404.php file.

The easiest way to access the 404.php file is through the WordPress back-end. Since you are making changes to your site, we recommend taking a backup first.

When you are ready, log into your Dashboard, then navigate to Appearance > Editor.

custom 404On the right hand side you should see a 404.php file listed.  If you don’t, you should create one by taking a 404.php file from another theme or website (you can find plenty of samples online) and copying it into the following directory:/wp-content/themes/yourthemename.

To edit the text on this page, simply find the text that currently displays on the 404 page and edit it so it displays your preferred message.

custom 404To add an image you should add the following code with an html path to your preferred image:

You can also include php tags to perform certain actions on the page. Some of the most common are to display search form:


display recent posts:

and list the most popular posts (requires the WordPress Popular Posts plugin):

Install a 404 Plugin

Some real estate agents don’t want to be bothered with editing code for their IDX website. They have good reason. Your job is to sell homes, not webmaster. Thankfully, WordPress offers a number of 404 plugins that simplify the process of creating a custom 404 page. Here are some of the most popular.


404page lets you create your 404 page like any other WordPress page using the WordPress editor. Then, from the back-end you can point this page to the 404 error so it appears when a page is not found.

Genesis 404 Page

This plugin is designed specifically themes powered by the Genesis Framework. The plugin opens up the default 404 page to customization and accepts a wide range of WordPress short codes.

Smart 404

Smart 404 is a clever plugin that guesses where your user intended to go rather than showing a 404 error. When a user enters a faulty url, the plugin will search your existing website pages using keywords from the url request and automatically forward the guest to the best match.

Custom 404 Pro

Like 404page, this plugin allows you to create a new page in the admin panel and redirect users to it as the 404 error. It also allows you to provide a complete url to use for 404 errors.

404 Page Pro

This paid plugin allows you to add custom backgrounds, social media buttons, and animations to your 404 page. It also can integrate a number of lead capture features such as email sign up.


So now you know what a 404 page is and how to customize it. Questions or feedback? Leave them in the comments. Or for more IDX website tips, check out How to Set Up an Email Address for Your IDX Website and 15 Alternatives to Blogging that can Boost Traffic to Your IDX Site.


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Harry Norman, REALTORS® - Atlanta, GA
Associate Broker

Good morning 

Thank you for sharing your information with us Morgan Taylor 

Have a great day.

March 25, 2019. 

Mar 25, 2019 06:23 AM #1
Robin Wells
RAW Chimney Sweep and Inspections - Penetanguishene, ON
Giving Peace Of Mind One Chimney At A Time

Thanks for info!   Will take a look at this in near future.

Mar 25, 2019 07:17 AM #2
Kathleen Daniels
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist

Thank you, Morgan Taylor - custom 404 pages are the way to go.  I am amazed at how many 404 pages I get when I am searching the World Wide Web. 

Mar 25, 2019 08:00 AM #3
Ronald Gombach

So, tried to phone; no answer on either number; phone kept ringing ... and ringing. Tried to submit request form on your website, but received no feedback so no idea if the info went through and was received on your end.

Mar 25, 2019 09:51 AM #4
antonio ortega
IDX Broker - Eugene, OR
Integrations Engineer at IDX Broker

Sites with listings will have 404 links out there. I would argue this is not an "error". Property pages will exist and then will no longer be online at some point. It's part of an IDX feed, properties come and go. 404 is the correct response code when a property page is no longer available. Since this is a natural thing, custom 404 pages are a great way to offer more search options when a lead has followed a link(often from a socail share) and reached a 404 page. 

Mar 25, 2019 11:06 AM #5
L. Scott Ferguson
Ask4Ferguson - Your House-SOLD Name in Real Estate - West Palm Beach, FL
Sunny Florida Real Estate Professional

That is great info!  Thanks for the 'hack'  Have been wanting to set one up not just for IDX, but other pages!



Mar 25, 2019 01:20 PM #6
Corinne Guest
Corinne Guest, REALTOR® | Barrington Realty Company - Barrington, IL
Barrington Lifestyles

My IDX oops goes straight to my custom 404 where they can search for homes, use the nvaigation or sign up for my buyers book. The IDX 404's are annoying but  we can try to make it less painful. Great post!

Mar 25, 2019 03:10 PM #7
Christine OShea
Christine E O'Shea Real Estate Broker - Naples, FL

Wow, so complicated to me.  I will bookmark for future reference!

Mar 25, 2019 07:18 PM #8
Robert Dcrouze
SEO - Tupman, CA

Prepare real estate WordPress site can be risky. Get training at digitalhikes the seo training course In delhi for better career and job option.

Mar 26, 2019 12:48 AM #9
Anne Edwards Johnson
JP and Associates - Austin, TX
Austin Realtor | HookemhomesATX (512)917-5260

Oh my, so much information.  I didn't even know whata a 404 page was. Bookmarked for sure.

Mar 26, 2019 09:15 PM #11
Dave Rosenmarkle
Highland Realty - Arlington, VA
32 years of providing fully satisfying service!

Thanks Morgan! Any and all help on 404's greatly appreciated.

Mar 27, 2019 04:32 AM #12
Bruce Hicks
Best Homes Hawaii - Honolulu, HI
Your Lifetime Friend/Helper!

wow 404 Morgan Taylor that is a lot of info to digest!  Will bookmark this to go back to it.

Mar 27, 2019 05:09 AM #13
M.C. Dwyer
Century 21 Showcase REALTORs - Felton, CA
Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

Congratulations on getting your post featured!    Lots of information to digest and apply; bookmarked for reference.     Thank you!

Mar 27, 2019 08:51 AM #14
Krista Jenkins, REALTOR®
Egenbacher Real Estate - Lubbock, TX
Residential sales and retail & office leasing

Thank you, Morgan Taylor . We may be real estate agents, but it is almost compulsory to have a basic understanding of how this stuff works nowadays. Otherwise we are at someone else's mercy to fix it. I wish  would have started learning WordPress ten years ago. Better late than never!

Mar 28, 2019 06:28 PM #15
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