The Difference between 404 & 410 errors: Impact on SEO

4xx status codes indicate that there was some sort of a problem with the page you requested that prevented the hosting server from processing it. So what is the difference between 404 & 410 response codes?

410 & 404 Error Codes

Both codes aren’t quite the same. Each of them has its own use cases.

404 error code means that the page is not found. If we are looking at backlinks, we say that the link is broken.

On the other hand, a 410 error indicates that a page has permanently been deleted.  This code tells search engines to drop those pages from the search index as well as prevent them from being crawled in the future (which eats up your crawl quota).

FROM AN SEO ASPECT

According to Google, when a page issues a 404 header response, it may sometimes still revisit the page to make sure it’s really invalid.

Using the 410 response code will at least ensure that Google won’t ever go back to that page again and get to the more important pages on the site, helping overall crawlability. The 410 response code should be used when there isn’t another option and that the page cannot be redirected to a similar or corresponding page. So if you’re sure that a page no longer exists and will never exist again, using a 410 can be a good thing.

I have written an article about website migration that can help you redirect use redirects correctly.

Google’s John Mueller said, “We do treat 410s slightly differently than 404s. In particular, we’ll sometimes want to confirm a 404 before removing a URL from the index, and we tend to do that faster with a 410 HTTP result code…If you want to speed up the removal (and don’t want to use a no-index meta tag or the urgent URL removal tools), then a 410 might have a small time-advantage over a 404.”

410 & 404 FROM A USER EXPERIENCE ASPECT

From a usability standpoint, it may be better in some cases to use a temporary 410 status code before using a 404 and redirecting. If you never will have a page return on a specific URL, then 410 it.




Let’s say your company stops selling a certain product and does not want to be found for online searches related to it or associated with it. Instead of using a 404 status code, it may be better to use a temporary 410 status code.

You can create an attractive custom 410 page that says something like “We no longer offer {insert product or service}. Visit {main services page, about page, or homepage} to learn more about what we offer.” This is better because users won’t be redirected to a page that isn’t relevant and be confused about what happened (unless they’re website-savvy, and let’s face it, many people aren’t).

2017-12-02T12:53:55+00:00

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