Does Google treat 404 and 410 status codes differently?
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Does Google treat 404 and 410 status codes differently?


MATT CUTTS: Today’s question
comes from Blind Five Year Old, who asks, “Does Google
do anything differently when encountering a
404 versus a 410?” OK, so first off, let’s back
up and cover what is a 404 versus a 410? So 404 versus 410 refers
to an HTTP status code. So whenever a browser or
Googlebot asks for a page, the web server sends
back a status code. 200 might mean everything
went totally fine. 404 means the page
was not found. 410 typically means gone,
as in the page is not found, and we do not expect
it to come back. So 410 has a little
more of a connotation that this page is
permanently gone. So the short answer is
that we do sometimes treat 404s and 410s a little bit
differently, but for the most part you shouldn’t
worry about it. If a page is gone and
you think it’s temporary, go ahead and use a 404. If a page is gone and you
know no other page that should substitute for it,
you don’t have anywhere else that you should
point to, and you know that that page is
going to be gone and never come back, then go
ahead and serve a 410. OK, so now let’s talk about how
the crawling system actually handles them differently. It turns out webmasters
shoot themselves in the foot pretty often. Pages go missing. People misconfigure sites. Sites go down. People block
Googlebot by accident. People block regular
users by accident. So if you look at
the entire web, the crawl team has to design
to be robust against that. So with 404s, along with I
think 401s and maybe 403s, if we see a page,
and we get a 404, we are going to
protect that page for 24 hours in the
crawling system. So we sort of wait, and
we say, well, maybe that was a transient 404. Maybe it wasn’t really intended
to be a page not found. And so in the
crawling system, it’ll be protected for 24 hours. If we see a 410, then
the crawling system says, OK, we assume the
webmaster knows what they’re doing, because
they went off the beaten path to deliberately say
that this page is gone. So they immediately convert
that 410 to an error rather than protecting
it for 24 hours. Now, don’t take this
too much the wrong way. We’ll still go back
and recheck and make sure are those
pages really gone, or maybe the pages have
come back alive again. And I wouldn’t rely
on the assumption that that behavior will
always be exactly the same. In general, sometimes webmasters
get a little too caught up in tiny little details. And so if a page is gone,
it’s fine to serve a 404. If you know it’s gone for
real, it’s fine to serve a 410. But we’ll design our crawling
system to try to be robust, but if your site goes down, or
if you get hacked or whatever, that we try to make
sure that we can still find the good content
whenever it’s available. In general, those
are the differences. They’re relatively minor. I wouldn’t worry about them
that much, and they can change. But I wanted to go ahead and
answer the question in detail. Thanks for asking.

21 Comments

  • Thomas Hey'l

    I have a URL that serves 410 since years, but since there's an external link to it I can't remove or modify, Google continues to scan it and reports it as error (since years) in GWMT. What about this case?

  • Mohammed ALAMI

    Interesting: even 410 Google will check again if page is live again. Disappointed as I would use that code for expired products instead of using meta tag as per Craig list. 

  • Markus Carminati

    error 404 e 410 status.. nel primo caso Google attende 24 ore prima di rimuovere la pagina, nel secondo viene rimossa subito.. #googlebot

  • Melinda de los Santos

    Interesting … I just looked up 410 in HTTP/1.1: Status Code Definitions (because I don't remember encountering a 410). I'd like to think of them now as Police Codes. 10-4. 😀

  • Jake Day Williams

    I need those going through my Ruby programming tutorials on YouTube to watch this video and subscribe to the Google Webmasters channel.

    It's important to watch all of these as they come out.

  • Richard Haussmann

    Is there any additional authority given for a site that uses a 410? The webmaster is going out of his/her way to communicate the page information is not longer active/available. I would think that the algorithm would "reward" honesty (and taking the time to configure a 410) rather than 301 redirect to a "kind of, sort of" similar page to avoid losing "link juice." 

  • Bhuwnesh Joshi

    When we might get an android app for webmaster, Is the webmaster team currently building one as there are many such great google apps. 

  • Le Hung

    #googlebot_hl  
    What is the difference between #error404 and #error410 was treated by #Google?
    #エラー404&#エラー410の違い?#グーグルは処理方法の説明#マットカッツ氏

  • Simon Ferndriger

    Thank you. However, it would be nice to see the 410s and 404s SEPERATELY in Google Webmaster Tools. Since in most cases, webmasters are aware of 410s, but NOT always of the 404s.

    We currently have huge lists with 410s, and we almost never look at it because it would be too time consuming to find the valuable 404s between all the uninteresting 410s. 

  • SCAR

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  • Tommy Schaeffer

    Awesome and informative video! Thank you!

    I'm seeing different behaviour and wonder if it is no longer true, however. I'll ask my question here and maybe you can help!

    So way back when I started my company, I used 99Designs to design the logo. I chose one design. All the runner-up designs were still live on 99Design. I didn't know anything about SEO and wasn't working on it. All those submissions and runner-up designs got crawled and show up in an image search on my company name.

    Fast forward to today, many years later as I've learned some SEO and am working to be better at it, I found all these images. I managed to talk to 99Designs and they are great and now serve up a 410 (gone) error for all of them. They made that change a few weeks ago. All the images still show up on the "images tab" on keyword search of my company name though.

    Is there a better way to fix this, or do I just have to be patient and let a few more weeks go by for Google Bots to stop indexing/crawling? This video suggests that they should have disappeared in 24 hours using the 410 error code….

    Thank you in advance!!!!!!!!!

  • Hayden Clay

    I tried going to a page titled Home Alone Joe Pesci Is Toht? and I ended up getting a 404 Not Found message instead of a 410 Gone.

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