Google Now Treats 404 & 410 Status Codes The Same

May 31, 2012 • 8:49 am | comments (7) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization
 

Google 404 SimpsonBack in the day, there was a difference between how Google responded to a 404 vs a 410 server header response code. 410s were faster and more permanent.

It seems as if that may have recently changed.

A Google Webmaster Help thread has Googler John Mueller giving us an update on the differences, or lack there of, between the 404 and 410.

He said, "even back when we differentiated between the two, the practical difference was just a very short time-difference, the overall process was the same."

To be honest, it isn't 100% clear if Google stopped differentiating between the two but it seems they have.

Why have they? I assume because most sites probably don't bother 410ing and just 404, at best.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Update: John Mueller got back to me to say he was wrong about this, he told me:

It's good to double-check these things, and it appears I was wrong there -- 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. In practice, the difference is very small, and it's not critical to use a 410 if a URL is permanently removed. If you want to speed up the removal (and don't want to use a noindex meta tag or the urgent URL removal tools), then a 410 might have a small time-advantage over a 404.

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Comments:

John Britsios

05/31/2012 01:05 pm

I do not believe that Google was not treating 404s and 410s different. No idea how this came up now. I am using 410s the last years and I had a better experience than with 404s.

Kenichi Suzuki

05/31/2012 07:20 pm

Matt Cutts said the two status codes were no different more than three months ago. https://twitter.com/mattcutts/status/168136014290890752

RyanMJones

05/31/2012 09:05 pm

What about 303 and 307? Do they treat them like 302 or 301 or differently?

Guest

05/31/2012 10:58 pm

Hi Rusty, The title is a bit misleading. Although it says 404/410 status codes are treated as the same, nowhere in John's response does it say they are treated as the same. Can you clarify?

Barry Schwartz

05/31/2012 11:00 pm

John clarified and I updated the post.

g1smd

05/31/2012 11:32 pm

At SMX London last week, Pierre Far said that URLs returning 410 were placed on a lower crawl priority than those returing 404, but both were recrawled forever because a significant number of such URLs do eventually come back into use.

MaxNanasy

03/17/2014 07:41 pm

But the title's still misleading

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