Designing websites to not need 404s - Webflow implementation

I came across this article by Lilou Artz via TLDR on using a SQL function to automatically redirect users to the right page despite typos or changes to the URL.

I’m curious if anyone knows more about this technology and can share insights on to the SEO impact and how this could be implemented in Webflow.


You’d have to have a very large site with a gargantuan amount of traffic for this to be useful, but I can give some examples and suggestions.

I’ve built very large sites in the real-estate industry. 60,000 properties across the US, listing 750,000 individual apartment pages. In those projects the problem was that people often misspell neighborhood and street names, so both classifying and searching for the properties you want requires some fuzzy search capabilities.

In an English-only site, you can use the SOUNDEX2 algorithm which is easy to implement and lets people search phonetically. Chykaagoh and Chicago are the same to SOUNDEX2.

In my case, the search feature was exposed through a global search bar, but the concept can be applied to the URL paths as well especially in 404s.

In Webflow, I’d do this in one of two ways;

  • Build it into the 404 page as a “Did you mean?” function, where you help the user find the product / location / page they were looking for.
  • Use a reverse proxy to do the same thing, but with an automatic guess on the best match and an automatic redirect.

I prefer the first option here. It’s easier to implement. It makes it clear that the URL was incorrect, and you may have several possible matches they can choose from.

In large Webflow sites I also take the path part of the URL, turn it into search string, and populate a Site Search box on the 404 page. It provides a nice path for lost users who like to type URLs, also for situations where you’ve moved a page and forgotten to add the redirect.

For example-

This feature is available as a nocode attribute in the SA5 libs-

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