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404 for Google, 200 for logged in user?

     
9:09 pm on Sep 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

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So some of my pages from vbulletin require a login to see the content. For example, this might include user profile pages, search results pages, or private forum posts. Would it be correct to show a 404 to google, but 200 to logged in users in these cases?
(so as to avoid the soft 404 problem?)
11:57 pm on Sept 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

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How about 401 Unauthorized ?

Authentication credentials were missing or incorrect.
2:07 am on Sept 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

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the 401 is for Basic or Digest authentication and "The response MUST include a WWW-Authenticate header field (section 14.47) containing a challenge applicable to the requested resource."
http://www.w3.org/Protocols/rfc2616/rfc2616-sec10.html#sec10.4.2
3:21 am on Sept 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

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All-purpose rule: Do not give Google a 404 if there is any alternative whatsoever. It will keep looking for the page forever. Or until the robot's warranty expires, whichever comes first.

If you can, tuck the relevant pages into separate, roboted-out directories. Any links to them should be no-followed. (Belt and suspenders principle. Belt and braces, for the Brits.) And then, to be safe, fire up the htaccess and block google from seeing the pages at all.

But first: if you do nothing, what does Google get? Are the pages set up so it's physically impossible to reach them if you're not logged in? If so, google should already be getting a 403.
5:29 am on Sept 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Nice tips. Get lot of knowledge about 404 from here. Thanks everybody.
6:59 am on Sept 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

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For certain URLs, htaccess is set to return "410 Gone" to all searchengines and common bots. They never list the URLs and rarely request them. Human visitors get the login page.