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How to handle expired event pages - 404 or intermediate page?

 11:02 pm on Dec 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

In a sub directory on my site I list a number of coming events related to my niche for the current year. After each event I would like to delete the event page as they are really no further use - apart from yearly event occurrences where I can just change dates/times and retain the page.

My question for the pages that get deleted:

1/ Would it be best to create a page where I can 301 all deleted event pages to, with the actual page stating "the event has expired but you may want to check out other coming events... etc." with a link to the coming event directory listings. (example.com/events/expired.php)

2/ If it's possible, create a second "real" 404 page and have it set in the event directory .htaccess - I presume this 404 would over ride the root one? This events only dedicated 404 page could then state the same as above. (example.com/events/404.php)

3/ Just let the deleted pages go to the root 404 page. - (example.com/404.php)



 11:35 pm on Dec 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

I do events too.

For recurring events, I leave them up (but remove them from the navigation) with a note that it's an expired event and we're waiting for the update on the next occurrence.

For non-recurring events, I just delete them and let them 404. My custom 404 page has a search box and some other links to encourage them to look again. (And a funny video from SCTV)


 11:46 pm on Dec 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi Netmeg thanks for your answer (I know of your site) However my site is about a certain topic with the events section just being one directory of it. So it would look a bit strange to add an expired events notice on the root 404 page. That's why I was wondering about a second 404 page just for the events directory. Or go the 301 route with a landing page featuring the blurb.


 11:56 pm on Dec 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

i would suggest option 2, which works best for the visitor.
option 1 would likely be treated by google as a "soft 404".

when implementing option 2 make sure you specify a local document:
ErrorDocument 404 /events/404.php

if the hostname for the document is specified like this the response will be a 302 status code instead of a 404:
ErrorDocument 404 http://example.com/events/404.php

Note that when you specify an ErrorDocument that points to a remote URL (ie. anything with a method such as http in front of it), Apache HTTP Server will send a redirect to the client to tell it where to find the document, even if the document ends up being on the same server. This has several implications, the most important being that the client will not receive the original error status code, but instead will receive a redirect status code. This in turn can confuse web robots and other clients which try to determine if a URL is valid using the status code.


 12:34 am on Jan 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

If it's possible, create a second "real" 404 page and have it set in the event directory .htaccess - I presume this 404 would over ride the root one?

Yes, that's mechanically how it works. ErrorDocument directives are inherited, so anything in a deeper directory will replace anything in a higher directory on the same path. And, since you can't put <Directory> sections in htaccess, you have to make a separate htaccess file for any directory with its own rules.

But I think a 410 is more appropriate.


 3:45 am on Jan 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

I create my events in a blog with categories and tags associated to them. When they are current the front page navigation/teaser directly links to them.

Once they are in the past they stay in the blog as I make sure the event dates are clearly stated. I keep them around as extra rich content (most are 850-1300 words with 2-5 images) for multiple purposes.

My main justification for leaving them up is: "To the new user [to your site] if it's not on your site you never did it!" Saves me from maintaining history pages, past events. etc. My cycle is: new event notice, event detail and finally event archive. Little to no change as it passes between them as time does all the 'work' for me :-)


 8:31 pm on Jan 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

Whenever possible I try to keep the expired events around,(If content exists on how it went posting that as an update), instead of 404ing pages that generally have links from social media. To this end I tend to focus on the event venue. For all this effort however I can not say I can see any measurable difference.

Robert Charlton

 6:27 am on Jan 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

expired events...

No one's mentioned what happens with these on the linking end (assuming, ie, that these pages have external inbound links). Would the reasonably attentive webmasters delete the related articles and outbound links because they are expired?... Or would they too have reasons for keeping them up?

As a searcher, I should say that there are few things I find more annoying than getting an expired page for a recurring event. (Especially disturbing is the trend I see of blogs not posting the year on their articles. Maybe they think they can turn all their content "evergreen" by this omission.) IMO, this is an argument for returning a 404 or 410.

Some outside-the-box approaches for dealing with expired content were discussed in this thread, where the approach was to return the original content (modified for the user and with navigation removed), but return a 410 HTTP header status code to bots and search engines....

Lots of indexed content that expires
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4328900.htm [webmasterworld.com]


 1:53 pm on Jan 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

I only keep expired events that are likely to re-up, because I don't want the percentage of expired events to exceed the percentage of active events for any length of time. I believe that would make my sites less useful, and could maybe even cause a visit from a large furry black and white animal.


 12:19 am on Jan 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

Robert, a few Qs. I understand exactly what you are saying, but let say the event is a sporting event and has winners. Or a venue that has many events through the year. Wearing a searcher hat would those be an asset or a disappointment? The venues keep being bumped to the top as new event take place, and the expired events are the ones that were big and likely to be yearly. And thanks for the related link.

netmeg, not all black and white animals are furry. The one to be afraid of has not yet showed up. Orca the Killer Whale.


 12:30 am on Jan 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

not all black and white animals are furry

Penguins, say.

What about recurring events as opposed to one-off events? The date of "our next PubCon" changes, but it always exists.


 1:41 am on Jan 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

Penguins, say.

in the context of content quality the panda would be the fearsome furry animal.

[edited by: phranque at 1:49 am (utc) on Jan 3, 2014]


 1:46 am on Jan 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

...but let say the event is a sporting event and has winners (...) Wearing a searcher hat would those be an asset or a disappointment?

I look after a site that also has events section. Events that are not repeated, but where the post-event description may be of interest to visitors are kept on even after the event has expired.

Sporting events that White_Dowe mentioned are the prime example of events that are kept on the site after their expiration because visitors often wanted to know how it went and who won, and events are updated with these details.

Yearly repeated events are kept up too.

All expired events that are kept get clearly marked as expired on the page (on top of showing the date that is in the past).

There are other non-repeating events that we do take down and which then return 410 as we judge that leaving them would not be useful to anyone (e.g. once the event has passed, who cares that on 5th of August there was a screening of movie A in the open air cinema.)

So it is mixture of what is decided and it depends on the event type, event page content, perceived interest post-event etc.


 1:58 am on Jan 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

Lots of indexed content that expires

Thanks for this link. At the time I had no idea what g1smd was talking about-- you can sense his frustration-- but now I do. There's a lot of useful discussion showing the difference between content and status code.


 2:16 am on Jan 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

Phranque, to the extent that social signals are music that soothes the temper of Panda. People must (like, plus, share, or pin), the content that updates the expired events, or ... Its a thin line between black and white. Ultimately it is the visitors that buy, but of course there are animals out there.

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