410 or a 404: when to use which one?

HTTP status codes are very important in the world of SEO. Two of these status codes are 404 and 410. These are particularly important when it comes to managing nonexistent pages. Both codes seem similar, but each has its unique implications. This applies to both user experience and SEO.

404 status code

A 404 status code indicates that a page can be “Not Found.” The server cannot find a match to the requested URL. It is a standard response for missing pages. A 404 error informs search engines and users that server is reachable, but the specific page being searched for is not.

Implications 404 for SEO

  • Temporary vs permanent removal: 404 is especially appropriate for situations where content is temporarily moved or missing.
  • User experience: a 404 page has a positive impact on the user experience if it is well designed. This means, for example, that the page offers alternative navigation options.
  • Crawling and indexing: Search engines continue to check 404 pages. They hope they will eventually return.

Using 410 or a 404 (video)

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410 or use a 404 (video).

410 status code?

A 410 status code indicates that a page has been permanently deleted. It tells search engines that a page no longer exists and it will not return.

Implications 410 for SEO

  • Clear communication: a 410 clearly tells search engines that a page has been permanently removed.
  • Faster index removal: pages with a 410 status are removed from the search index faster than 404 pages, which are only temporarily unavailable.
  • Efficient web crawling: 410 helps search engines manage crawl budget efficiently. It clarifies which pages no longer need to be indexed.

404 versus 410?

A 404 status code is appropriate in case a page may still return or if it is not certain that a page has been permanently deleted. If it is certain that a page has been permanently deleted, a 410 code is ideal.

Summary

It is very important to use the 404 and 410 status codes correctly. Thus, this contributes to effective website management and SEO optimization.

Have sufficient knowledge of both codes and understand the differences. Through the codes, search engines and visitors obtain relevant information. This results in a website ranking higher in Google and users enjoying a better user experience.

Senior SEO-specialist

Ralf van Veen

Senior SEO-specialist
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This article was originally published on 27 March 2024. The last update of this article was on 27 March 2024. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.