What makes a good 404 page?

In an effort to maintain a focus on usability and guest experience, I’m in the process of doing up a new 404 page for a site I’m sort of working on. The code to slap in the .htaccess is pretty simple and straight forward.

ErrorDocument 404 http://www.yoursite.com/custom_page.html

Once I get that done, it’s simple to make adjustments to the page. Now my task is to determine what makes a good 404 page. I’ve read in the past to integrate it with the site but I’ve also read the opposite. I also came across some extra inspiration from Smashing Magazine’s website. I don’t want to confuse the site guest thinking it’s actually a real page, or even worse, the page they were looking for. If I had a search for the site (which we don’t, but that’s another story) then I would definitely consider including that. Since I have PHP I can always try and see what exactly the user was looking for and make suggestions around that. And as a last resort I’ll be placing the call center number on there as well…just in case they need to actually talk to a person.

I’m curious though, what makes a good 404 page in your eyes?

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