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Custom 404 pages - will they be interpreted as doorway pages?
Worried that search engines might misconstrue them

 12:38 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have custom 404 pages so I don't lose visitors. The custom page has the site navigation bar and some language about how this page doesn't exist and suggestions for where to go next.

My question is: will this count as a doorway page? It fits the definition of a doorway page in that no other page on the site links to it.

I don't want to be punished for this.



 12:50 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Any custom error page would fit that definition, and to penalize you for good usability (offering navigation and an explanation) would be downright stupid. The big search engines occasionally make mistakes, but I'm fairly sure they're not downright stupid. Your described approach is 'best practice' and it's what everyone *should* want -- short of the ideal of no 404s at all, and in the absense of a replacement page that you could 301-redirect to.

We get a lot of talk about sites being penalized for this and that, but the real answer is often quite obvious -- low-quality, zero-unique-content sites riddled with dancing bologna and ads that cause the unsuspecting visitor to click on an ad just to get out of there as quickly as possible. So don't fall for the 'culture of fear' that surrounds these sites and their owners; You'll get penalized if you really deserve it, and not likely otherwise.



 1:32 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

For a fair spell now I've used one page for multiple errors, without ill effect.

Let's pretend it's called ut-oh.htm
At the top of my htaccess file I put:

Errordocument 403 /ut-oh.htm
Errordocument 404 /ut-oh.htm
Errordocument 410 /ut-oh.htm

The ut-oh page is a small imageless page, just enough text to explain what they sought is either no longer available to them, or the request was misunderstood, or sorry, it's just plain gone. I include a link back to the main site as well.

It's been utilized long enough that if an SE was gonna choke, it shoulda done so already.


 3:38 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

make sure you are returning 404 headers


 2:28 pm on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)


<meta name="robots" content="noindex" />

in the header can't do any harm, if you're really worried. (Ignore the final "/" if you're using HYML 4.)


 10:07 pm on Nov 27, 2005 (gmt 0)
I am new on this thing, just wondering, if i have done this right;
I have a 404 custom page, and here is the code on my htaccess file and meta tag on my page,

is this OK?

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^nameOfMysite\.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.nameOfMysite.com/$1 [L,R=301]
RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} ^[A-Z]{3,9}\ /index\.shtml\ HTTP/
RewriteRule ^index\.html$ http://www.nameOfMysite.com/ [R=301,L]
ErrorDocument 404 http://nameOfMysite.com/404.html

<meta name="Robots" content="All"/>


 11:01 pm on Nov 27, 2005 (gmt 0)


Welcome to WebmasterWorld!

Two problems:

1) Your RewriteCond says ".shtml" and your RewriteRule says ".html". These must agree.

RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} ^[A-Z]{3,9}\ /index[b]\.shtml[/b]\ HTTP/
RewriteRule ^index[b]\.html[/b]$ http://www.nameOfMysite.com/ [R=301,L]

2) Your ErrorDocument syntax is incorrrect. It will result in a 302-Moved Temporarily redirect response, rather than the desired 404-Not Found response. This can cause rather nasty problems with your search engine listings. See the Apache ErrorDocument documentation [httpd.apache.org] for details.

ErrorDocument 404 http://nameOfMysite.com/404.html

Should be:

ErrorDocument 404 /404.html



 11:19 pm on Nov 27, 2005 (gmt 0)
Thanks a lot jim;
changes done:

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^nameOfMysite.com\.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.nameOfMysite.com.com/$1 [L,R=301]
RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} ^[A-Z]{3,9}\ /index\.html\ HTTP/
RewriteRule ^index\.html$ http://nameOfMysite.com.com/ [R=301,L]
ErrorDocument 404 /404.html

<meta name="Robots" content="All"/>

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