/webmasters/community?hl=en
/webmasters/community?hl=en
10/21/09
Original Poster
verdecove

Will 404 Not Found error always occur when I change the inventory and delete products/web pages?

This is my first experience with a web presence and an own online store. I have set it up and ran it for a few days in test mode online and somehow it happend Google picked the site up and indexed it. About two weeks later my store was ready for real life and meanwhile I also added a tool that creates short SEF url's. Now I see in webmastertools I have more than 1450 404 errors because all my pages have gotten new urls. Well, someone told me not to worry too much about it and Google will find the new urls and delete the old ones. If that's true, time will tell. But the real problem I'm having is, whenever I have to update the inventory of my store (several times a week) I mostly have to delete products they got discontinued. This can be between 5 or in times like before Christmas or in the Spring even 20 or more a week. This means in worst scenario 20 or more missing links = 404 Errors. Is there any way to prevent that? Any time I update the inventory I have all urls generated new and also my sitemap gets created new with the current inventory. I can imagine having 404 errors in the report on a regular basis will in the long run be negative for my PR that I'm trying so hard to build up.
Any help and advice is greatly appreciated.
Thank you
verdecove
Community content may not be verified or up-to-date. Learn more.
Recommended Answer
Was this answer helpful?
How can we improve it?
All Replies (19)
Michael Martinez
10/21/09
Michael Martinez
It depends on the software you're using for your online store.

As long as there are no surviving links for the deleted URLs you should be okay.  Over time they will indeed fall out of the system.  But you may have to implement 301-redirects for the deleted URLs.
Phil Payne
10/21/09
Phil Payne
> I can imagine having 404 errors in the report on a regular basis will in the long run be negative for my PR that I'm trying so hard to build up.

In theory a 404 error should persist for ever unless you do something about it.  RFC 2616 Section 10 applies:

http://www.w3.org/Protocols/rfc2616/rfc2616-sec10.html

"The server has not found anything matching the Request-URI. No indication is given of whether the condition is temporary or permanent. The 410 (Gone) status code SHOULD be used if the server knows, through some internally configurable mechanism, that an old resource is permanently unavailable and has no forwarding address. This status code is commonly used when the server does not wish to reveal exactly why the request has been refused, or when no other response is applicable."

So when Google keeps coming back for a deleted URL it is acting completely in conformity with the RFC.  What happens is that the frequency of attempts falls off and Google stops reporting the 404 in Webmaster Tools - but it is entirely entitled (and required by the RFC) to return and try the URL again - I have one I deleted six years ago and leave as a test. Google checks for it every few months.

If at all possible, put up a 301 to channel the hit to a useful (related) alternative page.  Or serve a 410 (or use the URL removal tool) to tell Google the page really has gone.  If you do neither, you'll see the 404s every now and then but they do no harm - just ignore them.


squibble
10/21/09
squibble

I dont think google makes much distinction between 410 and 404 pages, unless there is updated information ?

...Google treats a 404 HTTP status code (page not found, but it may reappear) and a 410 HTTP status code (page not found, and it’s gone forever) in the same way....

from

http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/sitemaps-interview/

And some more 404 information here -

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=93641

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/08/make-your-404-pages-more-useful.html

 

Phil Payne
10/21/09
Phil Payne
"Sebastian has posted a good interview with the Sitemaps team. The most useful tidbit (which I didn’t know until now) is that Google treats a 404 HTTP status code (page not found, but it may reappear) and a 410 HTTP status code (page not found, and it’s gone forever) in the same way. I believe that we treat 404s as if they were 410s; once Googlebot has seen a 404 at that location, I think we assume that the document is gone forever. Given how many people use 404 instead of 410, that’s probably a good call for the time being."

Yeah.  That was three and a half years ago and clearly documented non-compliant behaviour.  Now TRY IT - get a couple of pages indexed, delete both and serve a 410 for just one of them and watch what happens.
squibble
10/21/09
squibble

>> Now TRY IT - get a couple of pages indexed

I have tried it. The results of which I have noted.
 
Here is google's status code - updated 9/30/2009

404 (Not found)

The server can't find the requested page. For instance, the server often returns this code if the request is for a page that doesn't exist on the server.

410 (Gone)

The server returns this response when the requested resource has been permanently removed. It is similar to a 404 (Not found) code, but is sometimes used in the place of a 404 for resources that used to exist but no longer do. If the resource has permanently moved, you should use a 301 to specify the resource's new location.
 
13 MORE
squibble
10/27/09
squibble

Thank you for a definite response on this query.

I also thought it was not worth rewriting a server (at possible extra cost) to produce 410 responses.

 

 
This question is locked and replying has been disabled. Still have questions? Ask the Help Community.

Badges

Some community members might have badges that indicate their identity or level of participation in a community.

 
Expert - Google Employee — Googler guides and community managers
 
Expert - Community Specialist — Google partners who share their expertise
 
Expert - Gold — Trusted members who are knowledgeable and active contributors
 
Expert - Platinum — Seasoned members who contribute beyond providing help through mentoring, creating content, and more
 
Expert - Alumni — Past members who are no longer active, but were previously recognized for their helpfulness
 
Expert - Silver — New members who are developing their product knowledge
Community content may not be verified or up-to-date. Learn more.

Levels

Member levels indicate a user's level of participation in a forum. The greater the participation, the higher the level. Everyone starts at level 1 and can rise to level 10. These activities can increase your level in a forum:

  • Post an answer.
  • Having your answer selected as the best answer.
  • Having your post rated as helpful.
  • Vote up a post.
  • Correctly mark a topic or post as abuse.

Having a post marked and removed as abuse will slow a user's advance in levels.

View profile in forum?

To view this member's profile, you need to leave the current Help page.

Report abuse in forum?

This comment originated in the Google Product Forum. To report abuse, you need to leave the current Help page.

Reply in forum?

This comment originated in the Google Product Forum. To reply, you need to leave the current Help page.