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Will 404 custom error page help me with Google visibility?

Redirecting useless pages to 404 custom error page. Any good?

8:30 am on Jun 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hi guys,

I am reading threads in this forum for quite a long time now. Always been helpful.
I have run into a problem I hope you can help me with. So i have this web site that has been abandoned for quite a long time (a year or more).It has been online but even the start page was not loading fully. Now it has new content, and works quite good actually. The problem is that Google has all the pages of this site into supplemental now. I created a customized 404 error page with sitemap and so on. What I need to know is - should I redirect all the pages that are still in the project but are not used now to 404 customized error page. They are to be used in near future and therefore I don't want to take them off the server. They are loaded now correctly (so so) but have no relevance to the current site(being pages from old project). Will these 404 redirects help me with Google. Even a bit?

Thanks for your time.

4:28 am on June 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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It's a bit difficult to see the whole picture in a short description of the situation. But I'd say if that old content is not related to the current or future content of the website, then don't serve it any more.

There is some conjecture about how and whether Google looks at domain wide issues, so I can't say this definitely will help your other pages in Google, because it certainly may not. In fact, I think many of us would appreciate hearing what the result is, if you do go in this direction. But it doesn't sound like thatr old content is doing you any good - so I'd dump it.

One caution about custom 404 pages -- be absolutely sure they are set up properly so that the HTTP status code delivered is really a 404. It doesn't matter that the page or the title says 404 error. I mention this because it is so common, especially on Windows servers, to see a redirect to the custom error page that returns a 302 status.

That's a recipe for potentially catastrophic trouble. Over time many, many urls may seen to have the exact same content -- whatever the so-called custom-error page holds. So make 100% certain that the server returns a 404 status in the http header for any url that you don't intend to see resolved.

They are to be used in near future and therefore I don't want to take them off the server.

I'm not clear about this. Do you mean you are going to re-use the same urls? Or just that you want to save the content? Or something else?

7:39 am on June 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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thanks for the reply.
What really happens is that my bosses insist on keeping these pages ( the useless irrevelant ones ) in the project for eventual future use. That's why I will not dump them. However Google has them on their index and keeps crawling them regularly (even more often than the default page ) Therefore I thought of putting a redirect to the custom 404 error page on them. The problem is not only that they are irrelevant but also they are not correctly showing if you try to load them (the new css-s mess them). That's the other reason to redirect them as it will help for better user experience on the site (of course i did my best to remove any links to them).Hopefully Google can "see" this as well. So i will try the redirect and see what will happen.
I recalled the "URL removal" thing from Google Webmaster console today. However i don't want to use that as I've read of some bad experience with this feature on this forum.
As far as HTTP status code on error page is concerned - it is OK (meaning returns "404 Not Found"). Thanks for warning me.