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GoDaddy Refuses to Fix Soft 404s for Custom Error Pages
southernmost




msg:4397858
 4:43 pm on Dec 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Despite my pleas, all the way to the President's office, GoDaddy refuses to fix soft 404s when Custom Error page is used.

If you are aren't aware, Google has been insistent that web hosts serve up a true 404 server response code when a page not found error is generated from an invalid url. GoDaddy's shared Windows hosting server (IIS 7.0) has been responding with a 200 HTTP code (instead of the correct 404 HTTP code) if you choose to use the Custom Error page handling. This is known as a "soft 404" and is strongly advised against in Google's webmaster quality guidelines.

FYI, there are three options for error page handling in their shared Windows hosting environment: 1) use the default GoDaddy error page (something that looks horrible and leaves the user unable to navigate to your website), 2) use a Custom page (which would be desirable, since you could make it look like your site and provide useful links for the user), or 3) use your homepage as the error page.

In options 2 or 3, GoDaddy's server will respond with a 200 HTTP error code - meaning that the page exists and was served properly. This is WRONG - as it tells the search engines that the invalid url exists and it is, depending on your choice, your Custom error page or your homepage - which would then be indexed and considered duplicate content...a problem in Google's eyes.

I have begged them to change this. They have admitted that their server does respond with a 200 HTTP code. At first, they thought it was appropriate because they were serving up the Custom error page or the homepage without a problem. But I, at great lengths, explained that this is not the proper use of a 200 HTTP code - because the page being requested does not exist.

After finally understanding this, the office of the president (yes, I reached up the top of the organization) responded that they were aware of the issue, but weren't going to do anything about it - unless, maybe, enough people let them know it was a problem.

 

southernmost




msg:4398491
 1:49 am on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

P.S. I just wanted to add that the only time this would be a problem is if you got a 200 code every time you type in a page that didnt exist. But, as long as it shows up a 404 code for the pages that don't exist and still shows your custom error page, you will be OK.


This is exactly my problem - a 200 code every time you type in a page that doesn't exist.

I'm still not sure how you are getting a 404 with a custom page. And GoDaddy has confirmed that they serve up a 200 with a Custom error page.

g1smd




msg:4398493
 2:12 am on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

If you are able to modify that custom error page file then there's a way on some servers to make the file send a 404 response code in the HTTP headers before it sends the human readable HTML content.

You can do this within .php and .asp files and several others. In PHP you'd use a HEADER directive. Other languages often contain equivalent stuff.

snickles121




msg:4398494
 2:17 am on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

There must be something wrong, the only thing I can think of is to redo the process I said earlier. Maybe it just didnt take right? Also my error page is named 404error.html and I am using deluxe hosting. Thats all I can think of right now.

Let me know...

koan




msg:4398507
 6:48 am on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

I would add that to my ever growing list of reasons not to host with GoDaddy.


More like not to host with Windows servers. I just worked on a site hosted on Windows that couldn't handle simple 301 redirections. Ugh.

Swanson




msg:4398525
 8:52 am on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

koan, thats nonsense - it's not a windows problem, IIS is completely fine with custom 404s normally so it is a godaddy issue.

Also, any windows hosted site written in asp or .net should easily handle 301 redirections - in fact it is so simple and I use them all the time. The problem with windows hosted sites is that because the .net programming environment is visual it attracts non-programmers and bad coding. A non-programmer could not create a site in PHP, whereas you could hack something together in ASP.NET using the visual editing tools, and in the old days Frontpage.

southernmost




msg:4398617
 1:10 pm on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

There must be something wrong, the only thing I can think of is to redo the process I said earlier. Maybe it just didnt take right? Also my error page is named 404error.html and I am using deluxe hosting. Thats all I can think of right now.

Let me know...


Snickles: I'm also on the Deluxe Windows hosting plan. And my Custom error page is 404.html

Would you try a header checker tool (search Google for one) and test a non-existent page on your site and tell me if you get a 404 or a 200 error?

snickles121




msg:4398622
 1:23 pm on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

I just tried like you requested and got the same 404 error:

1. REQUESTING: [(I...] have to leave this part out)
GET /timwarner.html HTTP/1.1
Connection: Keep-Alive
Keep-Alive: 300
Accept:*/*
Host: www.(again left out)
Accept-Language: en-us
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
User-Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0b; Windows NT 6.0)
SERVER RESPONSE:
HTTP/1.1 404 Not Found Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2011 13:18:44 GMT Server: Apache Accept-Ranges: bytes Content-Length: 10262 Content-Type: text/html

snickles121




msg:4398625
 1:27 pm on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Im just shooting in the dark now, but are you using Linux hosting or Windows hosting.

Im using Linux, maybe it makes a difference?

southernmost




msg:4398629
 1:31 pm on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: text/html
Last-Modified: Wed, 14 Dec 2011 15:58:30 GMT
Accept-Ranges: bytes
ETag: "beb4853979bacc1:0"
Server: Microsoft-IIS/7.0
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2011 01:45:02 GMT
Content-Length: 22711


HTTP/1.1 404 Not Found
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2011 19:42:33 GMT
Server: Apache
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Content-Length: 10262
Keep-Alive: timeout=15, max=100
Connection: Keep-Alive
Content-Type: text/html


Snickles: I'm noticing when comparing our "Fetch as Googlebot" responses (above, me first then you), that mine says "Server: Microsoft-IIS/7.0" and your's says "Server: Apache". Could this be the cause of different results? Or have you modified the web.config file? Or .htaccess?

snickles121




msg:4398635
 1:42 pm on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have not modified any of those files. That information also you just posted sounds like you are in a Windows based server and not Linux and it could be causing the problem.

I also just tried other sites that have custom 404 pages hosted with godaddy with Linux hosting and they all got the same 404 return code.

Please note: This is not my expert area dealing with servers, but Ill try to help you the best I can.

southernmost




msg:4398637
 1:54 pm on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have not modified any of those files. That information also you just posted sounds like you are in a Windows based server and not Linux and it could be causing the problem.

I also just tried other sites that have custom 404 pages hosted with godaddy with Linux hosting and they all got the same 404 return code.


Yep, that is the issue. I am, as stated in the original post, on the GoDaddy Windows shared hosting platform. You are on Linux.

So again, GoDaddy's shared windows hosting platform returns a Soft 404 when using the Custom Error page option.

Snickles - thanks for working with me on this one. While I think it is totally wrong of GoDaddy to not fix the Windows shared hosting issue, you have at least shown me a solution - which is to move to the Linux package.

As to why I don't move from GoDaddy: too much of the business is now entrenched with GoDaddy's products, including our email system and Extended Validation SSL certificates.

dstiles




msg:4398830
 10:14 pm on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

southernmost - I don't use .NET but in Classic ASP, just above the Document Header (DTD) in the issued page put...

Response.Status = 404 Not Found
(or whatever - bing for http response codes)

This MUST be issued before any document definition.

In my own system I change this according to the type of error I wish to issue in the customised 404 page.

This 42 message thread spans 2 pages: < < 42 ( 1 [2]
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