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How Google Treats 404 And 410 Status Codes

By Author: Jamie Judson
Total Articles: 7

Numbered status codes carry information related to webpage searches in response to a request made by a server or when a Googlebot “crawls” the requested page. One common status that is used is 200; meaning that the page was successfully returned and all is right in Google search world. There are five categories of responses that are available; for example, codes in the one hundreds mean that the request is provisional and the requester needs to take further action. Two hundred series codes mean that the request was successful; three hundred codes mean that the request is most likely going to be redirected, sometimes referred to as “crawl” errors, four hundreds are error codes related to the request, and five hundreds are error codes related to the server. You can visit HTTP status codes for more in depth information on what each code means.

Four Hundred Series Codes
The four hundred status codes are error codes that mean that the request is denied for one reason or another. For instance, if a 404 status code is received, then that means that the server cannot find the requested page. It does not necessarily mean that the page isn’t there, just that the server cannot find it. If a 410 status code is returned, then that page is determined to be gone permanently. Webmasters use these codes to send information, but sometimes the information is outdated or users and Google bots are blocked for reasons other than what the code means. For instance, sometimes the codes are sent in error and the page is still there, although the code received says it is not.

How Does Google Treat Status Codes?
Google treats status codes a bit differently than other search engines in particular, status codes 404 and 410. If Google encounters a page that returns a status code of 404, "page not found", Google protects that page for 24 hours and then tries again. In the case of a 410 status code, Google assumes that the webmaster intentionally sent that code back and believes that for all intents and purposes, that particular page is permanently gone. Still, Google likes to recheck just to be sure.

Matt Cutts explains Google’s treatment of status codes 404 and 410 in his own words via a youtube video and expands a little on the effect that status codes may have on a webpage. He states more than once that webmasters have nothing to worry about because Google is aware that mistakes are made and in response they have made a very robust “crawl” team to guard against dismissing a webpage too quickly. He goes on to explain that the reason that Google protects a page with a 404 status code for 24 hours in the crawling system is because it may be a transient 404 and may not have been intended to be a “page not found”. He also discusses the status code 410, which Google will convert right away to an error because the code signifies intentionality and permanent removal. Google will still go back and recheck a page that had a 410 status code to be sure that the removal is permanent.

Search Optics Inc. is a leader in digital marketing solutions for the automotive industry. Search Optics’ automotive digital marketing services include custom websites, search engine optimization, paid search and mobile solutions that generate leads which result in sales opportunities. Search Optics specializes in car dealer marketing and automotive SEO services.

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