Page 1 of 2 12 Last
  • Jump to page:
    #1
  1. No Profile Picture
    Contributing User
    SEO Chat Explorer (0 - 99 posts)

    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    58
    Rep Power
    13

    Custom 404 Page Creation


    I want to create a custom 404 page for Google to tell that the page no more exists.

    How can I do that? The site is on windows.

    In the header viewer tool, I should see 404 for the pages which doesn't exist? Please confirm.
    Last edited by divchop; Sep 11th, 2005 at 12:30 AM.
  2. #2
  3. Go OSU Beavers!
    SEO Chat Skiller (1500 - 1999 posts)

    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    1,537
    Rep Power
    25
    Im not quite sure what you're asking but I wouldnt waste your time with that. All things will work out and google will figure out that a page doesnt exist.

    Go Write some CONTENT so that people will give your Back Links!
    - Scott Fish, Director of SEO | SEO Blog | Tweet | Linkedin
    Doing SEO for Fortune 500 companies for the last 8 years.
  4. #3
  5. No Profile Picture
    mick.sawyer
    Guest
    SEO Chat Mastermind (5000+ posts)
    Yeah i dont see the point.
    I would just leave the links to die out.
  6. #4
  7. Contributing User
    SEO Chat Discoverer (100 - 499 posts)

    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    143
    Rep Power
    13
    If the page that no longer exists is still in Google and other SEs, maybe a redirect to another page on your site (301/302) is better than a 404. That way you still get a viewer looking at a page rather than an error message.
  8. #5
  9. <- Solan Gundersen
    SEO Chat Adventurer (500 - 999 posts)

    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    C:\Norway
    Posts
    756
    Rep Power
    15
    That redirect proposal is a bad advice unless you are redirecting to the new location of the webpage. Why? IMO this is against usability. That redirect will confuse the user and the SE's, and will not give the user a positive experience with your website. At least I hate beeing tricked to watch some unrelated stuff.

    A good custom 404 should at least have the first four points mentioned below IMO:
    1. Make the SEs drop your deleted website from their index.
    2. Help the SEs to spider your other webpages.
    3. Tell the user that the website doesn't exist,
    4. but give him alternatives so he doesn't leave your website,
    5. and make the user feel that he matters.


    So how to do that?
    1. Send a 404 header message to the spiders. Add noindex, follow to your meta-tag. A 301 or 302 redirect will give the SEs problems with understanding that your webpage doesn't exist anymore.
    2. Add a sitemap to your custom 404 webpage.
    3. Write a nice message, and remember, the custom 404 page shall have the same design as your other webpages.
    4. Alternatives can be your sitemap, but if you wan't to be a little bit more advanced you can make a query for related websites from your domain and propose some of them to the user.
    5. You can make the user feel that he matters and are listened to by give him a opportunity to report the broken url.

    Comments on this post

    • Bruno agrees
  10. #6
  11. No Profile Picture
    Contributing User
    SEO Chat Discoverer (100 - 499 posts)

    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    down by the seside.net
    Posts
    153
    Rep Power
    13
    Hi
    I made a small page on this topic for Google Sitemaps users, but I guess it's the same problem everywhere :-) -- http://gsitecrawler.com/articles/error-404-200.asp

    It also has examples on how to get the 404 return code into your page in php, asp, asp.net, you can check your handler with one of the server-status check pages, I made one before I noticed there were tons out there .. oh well ... it's at http://gsitecrawler.com/tools/server-status.aspx

    For the content part of the 404 page, I think the others have it summarised pretty good.

    Just wondering: do search engines look at the content on a page that returns 404 in the header? (has anyone tested this?)
  12. #7
  13. Contributing User
    SEO Chat Discoverer (100 - 499 posts)

    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    143
    Rep Power
    13
    I wasn't suggesting deceiving a user. I had in mind a scenario where a page has been reworked and renamed as part of an SEO process, but contains basically the same info. Once the new page has been picked up and indexed via its own URL, then drop the old one.

    Thats what I've done with lots of pages, seems to work fine.
  14. #8
  15. No Profile Picture
    Contributing User
    SEO Chat Explorer (0 - 99 posts)

    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    58
    Rep Power
    13
    Thanks All.

    My purpose is to tell the crawler that this page (already crawled) no more exists.

    I understand that 404 should be returned for header of the page which doesn't exist.

    Will the URL for the page change to a new 404 page or the URL on the browswer address bar remains same as of the page which doesn't exist?

    For e.g. www.mydomain.com/xyz.html is the page which was crawled and more exists. On request for this page, will the URL remains same as this or should it change to new custom 404 page?
  16. #9
  17. <- Solan Gundersen
    SEO Chat Adventurer (500 - 999 posts)

    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    C:\Norway
    Posts
    756
    Rep Power
    15
    It depends on how you build your custom 404. With my solution the URL in the browser adress bar remains the same as the page which doesn't exist.
  18. #10
  19. No Profile Picture
    Contributing User
    SEO Chat Discoverer (100 - 499 posts)

    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    down by the seside.net
    Posts
    153
    Rep Power
    13
    The best way is to have the server just return the custom 404 page; however, some servers use a 301 or 302 redirect to a custom 404 error page, which is technically not "ok". 301 would mean that the client should use the new URL in the future (say 404.html), 302 would mean that the client should use the old URL in the future, i.e. it's just temporarally gone missing :-).

    Best would be to just return the 404 page, second best return a 301 redirect to a 404 page which returns 404, worst would be to do a 302 redirect to a 404 page which returns 404, and absolutely "shoot-the-webmaster" would be to return anything that doesn't end up with a 404 result code (i.e. http://www.whitehouse.gov/softplus-for-potus.html ).

    Whatever you do, check your bad page handling with an offsite server status checker. To follow / recognize redirects, use something like mine above. (i.e. http://gsitecrawler.com/tools/server-status.aspx?url=http://www.whitehouse.gov/suckers )

    Cheers!

    Edit: 301 / 302 redirects will change the URL shown in the browser window, so try for something that doesn't do that.
    Last edited by softplus; Sep 11th, 2005 at 11:39 AM.
  20. #11
  21. Moderator
    SEO Chat Scholar (3000 - 3499 posts)

    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    3,410
    Rep Power
    160
    Originally Posted by divchop
    I want to create a custom 404 page for Google to tell that the page no more exists.

    How can I do that? The site is on windows.

    In the header viewer tool, I should see 404 for the pages which doesn't exist? Please confirm.
    Custom 404 pages are supposed to be highly recommended by Google. Not that they cannot tell that the page could not be found but if a Google Spider gets a standard 404 page it will just go back where as if you create your own it will continue through your site.
    And your customers do not like to get 404s either

    To create one create a page in Frontpage, Dreamweaver, GoLive or any other web editing software and name the page 404.shtml and upload it to your server.
  22. #12
  23. No Profile Picture
    Contributing User
    SEO Chat Discoverer (100 - 499 posts)

    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    down by the seside.net
    Posts
    153
    Rep Power
    13
    Originally Posted by Visio
    Custom 404 pages are supposed to be highly recommended by Google. Not that they cannot tell that the page could not be found but if a Google Spider gets a standard 404 page it will just go back where as if you create your own it will continue through your site.
    Have your done any testing to back that up? It should be easy to check...

    To create one create a page in Frontpage, Dreamweaver, GoLive or any other web editing software and name the page 404.shtml and upload it to your server.
    You forgot the: ... *IF* your server admin set up the server to call "404.shtml" for 404 errors. My windows servers (and none of my windows servers hosted at several providers) aren't set up like that ;-)

    Cheers!
  24. #13
  25. Moderator
    SEO Chat Scholar (3000 - 3499 posts)

    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    3,410
    Rep Power
    160
    Originally Posted by softplus
    Have your done any testing to back that up? It should be easy to check...
    Yes and no. I haven't done indepth studies on it but I do know that when a spider comes to my site and gets the 404 it does continue through my site which before adding the custom 404's appeared to disappear after entering that page.

    You forgot the: ... *IF* your server admin set up the server to call "404.shtml" for 404 errors. My windows servers (and none of my windows servers hosted at several providers) aren't set up like that ;-)

    Cheers!
    I never thought of that since I have my host setup with all that.
  26. #14
  27. Contributing User
    SEO Chat Discoverer (100 - 499 posts)

    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Seattle Area
    Posts
    137
    Rep Power
    14
    Originally Posted by Mano70
    ...So how to do that?
    1. Send a 404 header message to the spiders. Add noindex, follow to your meta-tag. A 301 or 302 redirect will give the SEs problems with understanding that your webpage doesn't exist anymore.
    2. Add a sitemap to your custom 404 webpage.
    3. Write a nice message, and remember, the custom 404 page shall have the same design as your other webpages.
    4. Alternatives can be your sitemap, but if you wan't to be a little bit more advanced you can make a query for related websites from your domain and propose some of them to the user.
    5. You can make the user feel that he matters and are listened to by give him a opportunity to report the broken url.
    Good advice, thanks. I have a question, it's a newbie level question, so please be nice...

    I asked my host if I could use custom 404s, or just have it redirect to my home page (like godaddy offers), but they told me no...It's on windows servers so I've been told, so I didn't think I could use .htaccess. I recently discovered I could use .htaccess, so I pointed my 404s to my home page (ErrorDocument 404 /index.asp)...which I'm thinking now was a bad idea.

    I basically was just trying to get it to work, which now it does - but now I want to be careful not to confuse or tick off the SEs. I totally agree with your approach that the customer should not click on specific result and see just a main home page...especially with the specific file name still listed in the browser's address window.

    My questions are,
    1. When using .htaccess to redirect to a custom 404, is it returning a true 404 in the headers?
    2. If so, is it returning it in the headers for the first page (specific.asp) or the actual page it displays (abc.com/index.asp)?


    Originally Posted by Mano70
    Send a 404 header message to the spiders. Add noindex, follow to your meta-tag. A 301 or 302 redirect will give the SEs problems with understanding that your webpage doesn't exist anymore.
    Do I undersand that in your code for the custom 404 (lets call it err.asp) you put the 404 header msg & noindex, follow for meta tags? I do know how to do these with asp, I just want to make sure it's put in the right file!

    Many thanks -
  28. #15
  29. No Profile Picture
    Contributing User
    SEO Chat Discoverer (100 - 499 posts)

    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    down by the seside.net
    Posts
    153
    Rep Power
    13
    Hi aviken
    If you have a Windows server you could still be running Apache, but I doubt it. The .htaccess-file only works if the server is running Apache - most Windows-Servers run the default IIS...

    If you're using asp.net you can add the 404-handler in your web.config (see my page above, http://gsitecrawler.com/articles/error-404-200.asp ). If you're not running a asp.net-site, you need to have your hoster do it for you, and if it's any kind of "real" hoster, he can do that for you without a problem, it's just a few clicks away if you have local access to the server.

    You can check if the page is really returning code 404 with a server-result checker, either use the Firefox webmaster-extention (information / view response headers) or use something online like http://gsitecrawler.com/tools/server-status.aspx .

    Cheers!
Page 1 of 2 12 Last
  • Jump to page:

Similar Threads

  1. Please explain different links?
    By cls in forum Link Development
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: Sep 1st, 2005, 10:37 AM
  2. I am confused.....plz help.
    By vinod2005 in forum Google Optimization
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: Aug 10th, 2005, 07:42 AM
  3. What kind of links does Google R-E-S-P-E-C-T
    By younglion in forum Google Optimization
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: Jun 18th, 2005, 07:37 AM
  4. 302 Page Hijacking
    By Broker boy in forum Google Optimization
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: Apr 6th, 2005, 05:33 AM
  5. Hierarchical Structure or Not?
    By cyu in forum Search Engine Optimization
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: May 24th, 2004, 12:28 PM

IMN logo majestic logo threadwatch logo seochat tools logo