Difference between a 404 vs 410 error code

diferencia entre 404 y 410

When we talk about SEO, the error codes 404 and 410 are terms that cannot go unnoticed. Both represent situations where a web page is not available, but it is the way in which each one handles this problem that determines their key difference.

An Error 404 code appears when a specific URL cannot be found. This can be due to multiple reasons, such as a broken link or a deleted page that is still indexed by search engines.

On the other hand, an Error 410 code indicates that the page is not only unavailable, but it has been intentionally removed and will not be available again. It is a strong and clear signal for search engines to deindex the page.

In summary:

  • The 404 error is like saying: “This page is not here, but it might be in the future“.
  • The 410 error is more like: “This page has been deleted and will not return“.

Both codes have their relevant SEO purposes and are vital for proper management of your website. In the following sections, we will explore these error codes in more detail.

Error code 404

TheError Code 404 is one of the most recognizable and common HTTP status codes. It occurs when the web server being accessed cannot find the requested page. This error occurs mainly for two reasons:

  1. The URL is misspelled or changed, leading to a broken link.
  2. The web page was deleted or moved without redirection.

From an SEO standpoint, the presence of 404 errors can be detrimental if they are abundant and not properly managed. For search engines, a high number of these errors can indicate poor site maintenance, which could affect its indexing and visibility.

The URL is misspelled or changed, leading to a broken link.

The webpage was deleted or moved without redirection.

Impact on SEO and user experience

It is important to understand the impact that these errors have on page indexing and user experience. Search engines like Google constantly crawl and index web pages. When they encounter a page with a 404 error, they exclude it from the index until the error is fixed. This means that the page will not appear in search results, which can lead to a decrease in organic traffic.

For users, coming across a 404 error page can be frustrating because it interrupts their browsing. If this happens frequently, they are likely to decide to leave the site and look for information elsewhere, thereby increasing the bounce rate.

Common examples of 404 Errors

Some common examples that result in a 404 error include:

  • URLs that contain typographical errors.
  • Links to pages that have been deleted.
  • Changes in the website structure without proper redirections.

In the next section, we will address another common type of error, the 410 status code. Although similar to the 404 error, it has notable differences and strategic use in certain situations.

410 Error Code

When you encounter a 410 error, you are facing a different situation than the 404 error. This code indicates that the webpage has been intentionally removed and will not be available again. It is the way the server informs that a resource existed but has been permanently deleted.

Meaning in SEO

The 410 error code has direct implications on page indexing. Search engines interpret this code as a clear signal that the content has been deliberately removed, which can accelerate the removal process of the affected URL compared to the 404 error.

Situations to Use Error 410

  • During website migrations, where certain pages will be permanently removed.
  • When deciding to remove content that is no longer relevant or obsolete, ensuring that search engines understand that the page should be removed from the index.
  • In cases where content has been mistakenly published and its permanent deletion needs to be communicated.

Key Differences with Error 404

The 404 error code suggests that a page might be simply temporarily inaccessible or not exist due to a typographical error in the URL, whereas the 410 code unequivocally states that the page has been deleted and its return should not be expected. This difference is crucial for web administrators and SEO professionals when structuring appropriate responses to missing pages:

  • Error 404: The page is not found, but it may be a temporary state.
  • Error 410: Confirms the permanent removal of content, instructing search engines to proceed with its removal.

Both codes affect the user experience while browsing the internet as they lead to an error page. However, understanding the differences between them allows for more informed decisions on how to handle nonexistent resources within a website.

When to use error code 404 or 410?

When deciding whether to use a 404 error code or a 410 error code, there are several factors to consider:

  • The Permanence of Change: If a page has been temporarily removed, the use of the 404 error code is more appropriate. However, if the page has been permanently deleted and there is no possibility of it returning, then the 410 code is the correct choice.
  • Impact on Indexing: Although Google treats both error codes similarly in the long term, the use of the 410 code can accelerate the deindexing process.
  • SEO Intentions: If you want to remove a page from Google’s index as quickly as possible, the use of the 410 code is preferable. On the other hand, if you expect the page to return in the future, it is better to opt for the 404 error code.

Numerous SEO experts have shared their perspective on how to handle error codes. John Mueller, senior webmaster trends analyst at Google, has indicated that in the long term, Google treats 404 and 410 errors similarly. However, he also mentioned that a 410 error will cause the URL to drop from the index more quickly.

On the other hand, Matt Cutts – former head of the webspam team at Google – suggests that if you know for certain that a page is gone and will not return, it is better to use a 410 code.

Best practices for error code handling

The best practices for handling 404 and 410 error codes include:

  • Avoiding confusion: Make sure that the error codes used align with the intention. A temporarily removed page should not return a 410 code.
  • Monitoring errors: Use tracking tools to identify any 404 or 410 errors on the website. This can help to fix issues before they affect the user experience or site ranking.
  • Providing a good user experience: Even if a page may be deleted, it is important to ensure that users do not feel lost. Providing a custom error page with links to other parts of the website can improve the user experience.

Frequently asked auestions about error codes 404 and 410

What is the key difference between an error code 404 and an error code 410?

Error code 404 means that the requested page is not currently available, but it could be in the future. On the other hand, error code 410 indicates that the page no longer exists and has been intentionally removed, with no plans to make it available again.

How do they affect the visibility of a page in search engines?

Both codes tell search engines like Google that the page is not available. However, a 410 code gives a stronger signal to quickly remove the URL from the search engine’s index than a 404.

In what situations is it recommended to use an error code 410 instead of an error code 404?

A 410 code is useful when you know for certain that a page has been permanently deleted and will not return. For example, if you are conducting a website migration or removing outdated content.

What happens when a page returns an error code 404 or an error code 410, and how can it be resolved?

When a page returns one of these codes, the user sees a message indicating that the page cannot be found or is inaccessible. The solution depends on the problem: if it’s a broken or misspelled link (a common case for error 404), fixing the link resolves the issue. If the page has been permanently deleted (case 410), you may want to redirect the user to a relevant page.

How does the choice between error codes 404 and 410 affect the indexing and ranking of a page in Google?

A 410 code can make Google stop indexing a URL faster than a 404. This can be useful if you’re trying to remove outdated or inappropriate content from Google’s index.

What are the best practices for properly managing error codes on a website?

Good practices include regularly monitoring your site to detect and correct 404 errors, using 410 codes for permanently deleted pages, and implementing redirects when appropriate. Communicating with search engines about important changes to your site can also help manage how these errors affect your SEO.
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