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What use is a Preview function for 404/410 errors in WMT?

     
6:49 am on Jul 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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The WMT 'Crawl Errors' report has a new feature today.

As you mouseover the list of URLs with errors under the graph, there's a pop-up pane for each one.

I only have 404 and 410 errors on this site. The pop-up pane contains a direct link to the listed URL and a box with "preview not available" written in it for each one. The preview doesn't show what the error page looks like.

You can still click through to the bigger box that lists the first found date and the last crawled date and lists the pages that link to this URL.

Mouseover of each URL makes an immediate call to the site from IP
74.125.nnn.nnn
with same or different IPs for each request, using user agent:
Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/536.8 (KHTML, like Gecko; Google Web Preview) Chrome/19.0.1084.36 Safari/536.8
.
The referrer is
http://www.google.com/search
each time.

I can't see much point in having previews for stuff that doesn't exist, other than to show that for temporary errors the page is now working again.

Presumably, people will find the previews useful for some of the other types of errors they may have on their sites?
2:40 pm on July 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I agree. Totally worthless and they don't tell you what it is for. The graphics is atrocious for this age.
11:16 pm on July 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Is there any type of error that would not result in a generic Error Page, either yours or the server's? A redirect isn't an error. Are they giving us a chance to say "Oi! That's not my 410 page!" ?

Just to annoy me, they're currently not listing any errors, even though they can usually come up with at least one utterly bogus 404. They did try to send me to a "Can't Log In" page, but I refused to cooperate.
1:39 am on July 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

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First thought was that it was added by someone "because they could". Every few days someone is meddling with something - changing a colour, a line width, text size, some spacing or other, and so on.

The only use I can see for the preview function is when a URL that should be valid is reported as 404 and the preview correctly shows the page. You can then "mark as fixed" for this URL.
2:21 am on July 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I wish they'd actually give us the pages that they claim are soft 404s... they say we have 3 of them, but we either 404, 301 or 500 ... nothing else.
12:14 pm on July 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

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This preview now works in Links to Your Site, which is much more useful. Now imagine if Google were to overlay this preview with an indication of how it viewed the links from this site - positive, neutral or negative. Now that would be useful...
8:36 pm on July 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

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:: detour to check ::

Yes! That really is useful. Someone else in these Forums pointed out the one thing Preview can be is good for: you can see at a glance, at any scale, if it's one of those search-result pages rather than a real site.

Wonder if they were simply testing it on something useless* before rolling out the useful version?

Now if only they'd do like That Other Search Engine's WMT and tell you where they got the links to nonexistent pages.


* Doubly so when the ones from my own site have g's default "preview not available", making the whole Preview thing 100% pointless.