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Google seeing 301 Redirects as Soft 404 Errors
Imaster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 12:36 pm on Jul 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google "Soft 404" errors piling up!

I am in a dilemma with regards to soft 404 page errors. Been getting a lot of these soft 404 page error messages in WMT.

I deal with a large site that publishes business listings city-wise and within that category-wise. Each listing has its own unique page as well as they are also listed in the category pages for the city.

Two potential issues lead to lot of 404 page errors that is handled by doing a smart targeted 301 page redirect:

a) Every month lot of old listings are removed and new ones added up that result in 404 errors for their unique listing pages. We simply do a 301 redirect to the corresponding city's home page for the city specific listing that was removed. i.e if a listing that was in "City A" is now removed, then we do a 301 redirect to the home page of "City A" for that listing page URL. This is resulting in many soft 404 error messages via Google Webmasters Tool. We checked via "Fetch as Google" and it shows a proper 301 redirect.

b) In many cases, lot of categories too become redundant and they are removed, so we employ a simple mechanism to 301 redirect the 404 page categories to related higher level category till it finds a perfectly working 200 page category. It can find it either one level up/two level up/three level up/ or if none exist, then redirect to the home page.

What do you think should be done? Should we treat them as 404 or continue with the existing settings. These settings have been in place since almost 10 years now.

If at all, we start to treat them as 404 error pages:

- What would be the impact on Google rankings when it suddenly starts finding a huge number of 404 errors.
- We could also add the "Google Webmaster Tools 404 widget " to the 404 page which would show relevant related pages (provide alternatives to incorrect URLs), but in many cases it could also show up links that are actually 404 error pages, but not yet updated in Google. That could set a loop.

How do the experts suggest handling this issue?

 

Planet13

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 2:51 pm on Jul 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

"i.e if a listing that was in "City A" is now removed,"


What is the average lifetime of these listing pages? Is it days? Weeks? Months?

~~~~

We simply do a 301 redirect to the corresponding city's home page for the city specific listing that was removed. i.e if a listing that was in "City A" is now removed, then we do a 301 redirect to the home page of "City A" for that listing page URL.


I don't think you should be doing that.

Google has said don't take non-existent pages and 301 them to the HOME page.

I think that what you are doing is PRETTY similar to that.

~~~~~

I don't think I understand the exact nature of the businesses that you list. If the individual business pages are for events that might happen once (like a concert or something), is it possible to leave the page but just delete any links to the page - and also clearly state that it is an archive page?

~~~~~

the reason I think you have to be careful is because google is, I think, trying to look at the value of a 301 through the same eyes as a visitor.

Suppose a visitor were looking for business / event page A and they are redirected to something else? They might click out of your site and do another search for the same thing )or click a different result in the serps OTHER than your site. I will bet you dollars to donuts that google would take that as a (lack of) quality signal about your site.

JD_Toims

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 3:00 pm on Jul 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

- What would be the impact on Google rankings when it suddenly starts finding a huge number of 404 errors.

The algo already sees them that way. Soft 404 means they're being treated as 404s even though a proper 404 header is not being served.

Personally, I would "do it the other way around", meaning serve a correct 404 or 410 header for the removed pages but rather than a generic 404/410 error page I'd grab and display the information that would be redirected to on the 404/410 page for visitor convenience. (I would also noindex the 404/410 page, just to be safe.)

ADDED: I'd probably insert a "sorry, that page has been removed, but we've provided you with similar resources below." notice at the top of the error page so visitors know what they were looking for is not present, but there are other resources on the site they might like.

Imaster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 11:03 am on Jul 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

What is the average lifetime of these listing pages? Is it days? Weeks? Months?


It can be a couple of months to several years. Depends on how long a particular business is in operation. It's basically like a yellow pages site.

I don't think you should be doing that.

Google has said don't take non-existent pages and 301 them to the HOME page.

I think that what you are doing is PRETTY similar to that.


We have also checked that almost 90% of the major authority competitor sites in the exact same niche (I would say ranking within Alexa 500) are doing the same. i.e. doing a 301 redirect to the relevant category, just like its happening in this case. This has led us to confusion whether we should treat them as 404 or simple carry on with the 301 redirect as exists.

Personally, I would "do it the other way around", meaning serve a correct 404 or 410 header for the removed pages but rather than a generic 404/410 error page I'd grab and display the information that would be redirected to on the 404/410 page for visitor convenience. (I would also noindex the 404/410 page, just to be safe.)

ADDED: I'd probably insert a "sorry, that page has been removed, but we've provided you with similar resources below." notice at the top of the error page so visitors know what they were looking for is not present, but there are other resources on the site they might like.


We were thinking of doing something on similar line, but not sure whether we should do it or not because its a major step and we want to be totally sure before making this sort of massive change.

aakk9999

WebmasterWorld Administrator 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 11:32 am on Jul 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Personally, I would "do it the other way around", meaning serve a correct 404 or 410 header for the removed pages but rather than a generic 404/410 error page I'd grab and display the information that would be redirected to on the 404/410 page for visitor convenience. (..)

ADDED: I'd probably insert a "sorry, that page has been removed, but we've provided you with similar resources below." notice at the top of the error page so visitors know what they were looking for is not present, but there are other resources on the site they might like.

Yes, I would do this too, this would be the proper way. 410 Gone would be more appropriate response in this case.

(I would also noindex the 404/410 page, just to be safe.)
This is completely unnecessary if the correct header responses are returned. Better test your response codes properly.

What would be the impact on Google rankings when it suddenly starts finding a huge number of 404 errors.
As I said, I would send 410 instead, but in any case, as long as you are not internally linking to these pages you will be ok, the WMT "Not Found" section is for your information only.

However - one exception - if one of such pages to be removed has very good external links, then on some cases I may decide to leave this page returning 200 OK and add a disclaimer to that page along the lines that this info does not exist any more, please go to city URL to see the full list of currently available services.

But I would do this only as an exception if there is a really good external link to be preserved.

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 12:31 pm on Jul 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Sometimes a 404 is just a 404.

I deal with a lot of events. Events expire. Sometimes they come back, sometimes they don't.

If they expire and I'm left with cities or counties without active listing, then the city or county immediately goes inactive and serves a real 404.

If it's a one time event and it's gone for good, then I delete it and it serves a real 404 (or maybe we did a 410 for that, can't remember)

I never do any redirects on this stuff. I only redirect for replacements.

And yea, sometimes I have a lot of 404s when I clean out a bunch of old events, but I just have to trust that Google knows how to deal with it. At any rate, traffic on these sites has grown every year since 1999, so it's been okay so far. I'm reasonably sure if you have other quality signals that this one won't hurt you.

If you wait till you're totally sure, you'll be waiting forever. There are no "totally sure"s with Google.

But personally, I think a bunch of real 404s are probably better than a bunch of soft ones.

JD_Toims

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 12:47 pm on Jul 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

This is completely unnecessary if the correct header responses are returned. Better test your response codes properly.

All my error pages get noindexed and have for years, because Google has been known to "glitch" on occasion, sometimes headers get over-written inadvertently after testing (especially with a complicated .htaccess and php redirects -- been there), but mainly due to Google being "cold molasses slow" at removing 404 pages from the index.

So, technically it's unnecessary, but in reality it's been a nice backup to ensure what's supposed to happen (page gets dropped from the index) happens as fast as I can get it to, even if something "goes wrong" on my end or theirs.

lucy24

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 9:24 pm on Jul 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

This is completely unnecessary if the correct header responses are returned.

Have you discovered a category of page that g### will not index, even if it can see them? Remember, this is the search engine that has to be told not to index your robots.txt, css and js pages.

:: detour to check ::

I tried an exact-text search for my own 404 page and came up cold (meaning that this phrase occurs nowhere except maybe on other sites' 404 pages? this surprises me). But still, why take chances.

If you're already taking action on your absent pages by 301'ing rather than letting them default to 404, you may as well make it a 410 instead. You should be able to make a dynamic 410 page that takes some of the same parameters as the city page, only less complicated visually. And it will be a little better for your users because they get a message of "Sorry, we don't have exactly what you asked for, but try this" instead of "We know your wishes better than you do, so here's what you really want". Analogies present themselves, but let's not go there.

The rules that apply to the Very, Very Big Names don't necessarily apply to ordinary humans. So unless your name is Amazon, don't assume you can do whatever the competition is doing.

Hey, question. If you return a 404 or 410 response in the ordinary way, can the 404/410 page still "see" the parameters attached to the original request, or do they disappear? I'm talking about when the 4xx response originates with the server, not within a dynamic page.

Yes, I realize that in this post, "you" means at least three different things. Oops.

aakk9999

WebmasterWorld Administrator 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 12:25 am on Aug 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

I haven't seen any case of Google indexing a page that returns 404 or 410 if a proper response codes have been returned. Of course, if the page existed and Google indexed it previously, then once the page is removed and starts to return 404/410, it will take some time for Google to remove it from its index.

Adding robots noindex on page at the same time when the response code is changed to return 404/410 will not speed up dropping the page out of index since Google will not bother with page HTML once it receives 404/410 response.

The only reason I could see for setting up noindex on a page that returns 404/410 would be to protect from own errors, that is, if there is some mistake in returning HTTP response and the page suddenly starts to return 200 OK. In this case having a noindex could be a fallback in preventing Google indexing the page.

JD_Toims

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 12:55 am on Aug 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Adding robots noindex on page at the same time when the response code is changed to return 404/410 will not speed up dropping the page out of index since Google will not bother with page HTML once it receives 404/410 response.

I'm sorry, but that's incorrect.

Google often continues to index a page they receive a 404 response from until the algo decides to treat it as "not there" any more. In other words, they err on the side of caution, because "not found" is not definitive and does not mean "gone".

A 404 can be caused by a number of conditions, including a page being uploaded at the time they spider it. (In this case the FTP software usually deletes the remote copy and then uploads the new one and there can be occasions where a page is deleted and then for some reason the upload does not happen before a bot hits the page... There have been *many* reports here over the years of Google not dropping 404 pages from their index at all quickly, but a noindex on the 404 page served to the URL solves that issue in my experience.)

If you don't believe me, check your favorite SE for the many threads here over a number of years about how slow Google can be to drop 404 pages from their index. Eventually they will, but if the URL is noindexed when they receive a 404 they drop it nearly immediately. (I guess it's possible they've changed something since I've tested it, but a 404 + noindex has worked well for me to get pages dropped sooner in the past.)

That's why some of us do it and recommend it.

[edited by: JD_Toims at 1:28 am (utc) on Aug 1, 2013]

lucy24

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 1:09 am on Aug 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Don't know about the others, but I was thinking "noindex" on the 404/410 page itself. Not on the originally requested page-- that would be meaningless.

JD_Toims

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 1:12 am on Aug 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Don't know about the others, but I was thinking "noindex" on the 404/410 page itself.

Me too... But unless someone is redirecting to a 404/410 rather than serving a custom 404/410 for the requested URL, then I think we're both saying the same thing.

"The URL requested will serve a 404/410 response code with a custom page that also includes an noindex meta tag." -- I think that's what we're both saying we prefer and do.

phranque

WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 4:48 am on Aug 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

take a look at what google has said to webmasters recently about soft 404s.


404 (Not found) - Webmaster Tools Help:
http://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2409439 [support.google.com]
Returning a code other than 404 or 410 for a non-existent page (or redirecting users to another page, such as the homepage, instead of returning a 404) can be problematic. Such pages are called soft 404s, and can be confusing to both users and search engines.


Soft 404 errors - Webmaster Tools Help:
http://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/181708 [support.google.com]


Google Webmaster Central Blog: Crawl Errors now reports soft 404s
Monday, June 07, 2010:
http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/06/crawl-errors-now-reports-soft-404s.html [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com]

Google Webmaster Central Blog: Do 404s hurt my site?
Monday, May 02, 2011:
http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/05/do-404s-hurt-my-site.html [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com]
A soft 404 is when a web server returns a response code other than 404 (or 410) for a URL that doesn't exist. A common example is when a site owner wants to return a pretty 404 page with helpful information for his users, and thinks that in order to serve content to users he has to return a 200 response code. Not so! You can return a 404 response code while serving whatever content you want. Another example is when a site redirects any unknown URLs to their homepage instead of returning 404s. Both of these cases can have negative effects on our understanding and indexing of your site, so we recommend making sure your server returns the proper response codes for nonexistent content.


Google Webmaster Central Blog: New Crawl Error alerts from Webmaster Tools
Thursday, July 12, 2012:
http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2012/07/new-crawl-error-alerts-from-webmaster.html [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com]


added after i found all the above...
John Mueller - Google+ - Soft-404s & your site - We call a URL a soft-404 when it is...
Jun 3, 2013:
http://plus.google.com/+JohnMueller/posts/fLEzA2Q1uUQ [plus.google.com]


now look at what you call "a smart targeted 301 page redirect".

old listings are removed ... We simply do a 301 redirect to the corresponding city's home page ... lot of categories too become redundant and they are removed, so we ... 301 redirect ... either one level up/two level up/three level up/ or if none exist, then redirect to the home page.

all this sounds like perfect descriptions of soft 404 techniques.

What do you think should be done? Should we treat them as 404 or continue with the existing settings?

you could show the same content you show with the redirected urls but use a 404/410 response instead of redirecting to those urls.


What would be the impact on Google rankings when it suddenly starts finding a huge number of 404 errors.

from the first WMT Help link above:
Generally, 404 errors don't impact your site's ranking in Google, and you can safely ignore them.

the fact they are reported doesn't make them a problem but if you see something reported that looks like a problem you should address it since that might impact your rankings.

and from the "Do 404s hurt...?" blog post:
Q: Do the 404 errors reported in Webmaster Tools affect my site’s ranking?
A:
404s are a perfectly normal part of the web; the Internet is always changing, new content is born, old content dies, and when it dies it (ideally) returns a 404 HTTP response code. Search engines are aware of this; we have 404 errors on our own sites, as you can see above, and we find them all over the web. In fact, we actually prefer that, when you get rid of a page on your site, you make sure that it returns a proper 404 or 410 response code (rather than a “soft 404”). Keep in mind that in order for our crawler to see the HTTP response code of a URL, it has to be able to crawl that URL—if the URL is blocked by your robots.txt file we won’t be able to crawl it and see its response code. The fact that some URLs on your site no longer exist / return 404s does not affect how your site’s other URLs (the ones that return 200 (Successful)) perform in our search results.



We could also add the "Google Webmaster Tools 404 widget " to the 404 page which would show relevant related pages...

you should do your own work there and create a better custom error page.

aakk9999

WebmasterWorld Administrator 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 10:16 am on Aug 1, 2013 (gmt 0)


Me too... But unless someone is redirecting to a 404/410 rather than serving a custom 404/410 for the requested URL, then I think we're both saying the same thing.

"The URL requested will serve a 404/410 response code with a custom page that also includes an noindex meta tag." -- I think that's what we're both saying we prefer and do.


I am wondering if we are talking the same thing. Lets say there is page A that should be returning 404. And lets say there is a dynamically generated content that is returned as HTML together with response 404. This content is what you want visitors to see for the page that is not found, i.e. this is custom 404 page. Lets also assume you cannot request this custom 404 page on its own - it has no URL and the HTML is only generated as a result of requesting the page that does not exist.

Having noindex within this HTML that is sent alongside 404 response is obsolete and will not speed up Google removing the original page out of its index.

On the other side, putting noindex in HTML that arrives with 404 response will do no harm, so if you prefer, you can do it but it will make no difference whatsoever.

Imaster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 11:34 am on Aug 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thank you very much for all your responses. I have to make a sudden travel plan due to some family emergency and will be able to respond better on Monday. Thanks once again!

lucy24

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 12:12 pm on Aug 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Having noindex within this HTML that is sent alongside 404 response is obsolete and will not speed up Google removing the original page out of its index.

On the other side, putting noindex in HTML that arrives with 404 response will do no harm, so if you prefer, you can do it but it will make no difference whatsoever.

The only way I can get these two lines to make sense is if I read each one as meaning the opposite of what I think it was intended to mean :( (I also can't figure out what word your brain was aiming for when your fingers typed "obsolete", but that's minor.)

Are the two bits I've bolded the same thing or different things?

Either way, my own perfunctory experimentation suggests that g### does not, in fact, index the 404 page. They may not even read it; once a robot has seen the 404 it can choose not to look at the accompanying HTML.

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 12:28 pm on Aug 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Either way, my own perfunctory experimentation suggests that g### does not, in fact, index the 404 page. They may not even read it; once a robot has seen the 404 it can choose not to look at the accompanying HTML.


That's my take on it too, but since it's yet another thing I don't want to have to worry about, and since it takes minimal trouble on my part, my custom 404 pages are all no-indexed. (Kind of a forest meet trees thing)

JD_Toims

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 2:21 pm on Aug 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

That's my take on it too, but since it's yet another thing I don't want to have to worry about, and since it takes minimal trouble on my part, my custom 404 pages are all no-indexed. (Kind of a forest meet trees thing)

^^^ This

JD_Toims

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 6:24 pm on Aug 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Oh, and reason #3042 for including noindex on error pages: Google's not the only search engine and I'd rather not chance error pages showing in any others that are less developed either, mainly because they make my site look broken to searchers who don't know error pages should not be indexed.

g1smd

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 10:02 pm on Aug 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

I usually add a noindex meta tag to the 404 HTML file. This is an HTML file (perhaps with some PHP functionality within it) that is "included" after the main PHP script has sent the HTTP 404 HEADER and other things.

I have on occasions had Google directly access the 404 file in the location where it really resides on the server. When accessed this way, the file is natively returned with HTTP "200 OK" status.

In more recent times, I hide these files away somewhere where they can't be directly accessed.

lucy24

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 11:20 pm on Aug 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have on occasions had Google directly access the 404 file in the location where it really resides on the server.

Well, THAT'S unnerving. How does it know where to look?

:: scurrying off to apply noindex tag just to be safe ::

g1smd

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 6:03 am on Aug 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

How did it know where to look?

Oh, some error made where a rewritten request was accidentally exposed as a redirect for a few hours, or some other equally simple mistake.

aakk9999

WebmasterWorld Administrator 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 8:53 am on Aug 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Lucy
The only way I can get these two lines to make sense is if I read each one as meaning the opposite of what I think it was intended to mean sad (I also can't figure out what word your brain was aiming for when your fingers typed "obsolete", but that's minor.)

Are the two bits I've bolded the same thing or different things?

Yes, you are right, the word "obsolete" was the wrong word, replace this with "unnecessary".

There is a request.
The response to this request is 404.
There is some HTML returned together with 404 response, this shows to visitor in the browser.
Having noindex within this HTML is unnecessary. But it will do no harm if included since this HTML that is returned with 404 response is ignored by search engine. And noindex within the HTML returned with 404 response will not speed up removing 404-ed URLs from Google index.

Note that I am not talking about this HTML that is sent alongside 404 as being a separate file somewhere on the server that can be requested on its own right (should someone know the URL for file name) - which would be the only reason for including noindex. From what I gathered, the OP will have to create this HTML that arrives with 404 response dynamically as the "custom 404" that would display to the user would be different depending on business/city.

Imaster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 5:43 am on Aug 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks a lot everyone for all your help and inputs on this issue. Done the changes. Namely removed the 301 redirects and sending a 404 header with a custom 404 page that displays links to those pages where it was getting 301 redirected earlier. Perhaps, We will directly show those pages (content where it was getting 301 redirected to) too in the custom 404 in future.

Now waiting to see how this affects the position in Google.

aakk9999 >> However - one exception - if one of such pages to be removed has very good external links, then on some cases I may decide to leave this page returning 200 OK and add a disclaimer to that page along the lines that this info does not exist any more, please go to city URL to see the full list of currently available services.


Thanks, I will note that!

netmeg >> I never do any redirects on this stuff. I only redirect for replacements.

And yea, sometimes I have a lot of 404s when I clean out a bunch of old events, but I just have to trust that Google knows how to deal with it. At any rate, traffic on these sites has grown every year since 1999, so it's been okay so far. I'm reasonably sure if you have other quality signals that this one won't hurt you.

If you wait till you're totally sure, you'll be waiting forever. There are no "totally sure"s with Google. But personally, I think a bunch of real 404s are probably better than a bunch of soft ones.


This makes a lot of sense. I have decided to do a 404 with most probably displaying related results on the error page or retrieving the contents of the redirected page on the 404. But I will get it done asap.



lucy24 >> The rules that apply to the Very, Very Big Names don't necessarily apply to ordinary humans. So unless your name is Amazon, don't assume you can do whatever the competition is doing.


Point noted! Thanks a lot.


JD_Toims >> Eventually they will, but if the URL is noindexed when they receive a 404 they drop it nearly immediately. (I guess it's possible they've changed something since I've tested it, but a 404 + noindex has worked well for me to get pages dropped sooner in the past.)


Thanks for this insight!


phranque >> take a look at what google has said to webmasters recently about soft 404s.


Thanks! Thats all very very helpful!

g1smd

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 9:06 am on Aug 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

When you clear old events and the URL will never be re-used it is more appropriate to return "410 Gone".

However, do recurring events have a new URL each year, or do you re-use the old one? This is an important point, and one worth thinking about. Over time, a re-used URL for such a page will continue to gain many links.

Imaster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 11:24 am on Aug 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

However, do recurring events have a new URL each year, or do you re-use the old one?


Yes, it is possible that the urls may be re-used again in future. It does happen and that's why I think 404 would be appropriate.

g1smd

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4597637 posted 1:00 pm on Aug 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Yes, "404" means the content can't be found right now, but makes no claims as to whether it ever existed or whether it may or may not exist in the future.

On the other hand, "410" specifies that the content has gone and it ain't coming back.

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