Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What Search engines think of your site's unavailable page?

Response Codes and website optimization:

Sometimes we find expected pages, that may or may not be advertised , but shown as links on part or even at the Index page of the site.
With sheer excitement and an urge to learn more or to buy something the user clicks and what does he find ( not so often for professional webmasters!)

Error 404
Page Not Found!

This happens due to improper link navigation or due to spelling ( sometimes spaces can be a killer for a website linking)

Now question comes what is the Error 404?
This is one of the HTTP status code (server's response code, which provides information about the status of the request) for the availability of the "said" page name (URL).
for example:
If there is a link "Guaranteed Top 10 Ranking" to your SEO page, the user wants to get to the top and ultimately clicks that. Then if the page is giving a 404 ( page not found) error, do you think you will get the client??
The answer is simply NO , unless you are too lucky or the visitor is very optimistic to contact you further.
Here comes the role of the webmaster to check the incoming and outgoing links via "broken link analysis". There are many FREE web based softwares who do that including Xenu and W3C Link Checker among others.

HTTP status codes
When a request is made to your server for a page on your site (for instance, when a user accesses your page in a browser or when Googlebot crawls the page), your server returns an HTTP status code in response to the request.

some popular codes are:
200 for "OK"
404 File not found
301 "Moved Permanently"
302 "Moved temporarily"

What is the dis-advantage of non-available web pages or in other words from SEO point of view, how to utilize the error code for better optimization of a website?

From an end user's point of view, the impression gets bad, he / she "may not" return to your site again or will have an assumption that the site is either incomplete or not being managed properly. Which will lead to brand awareness confusion. You need a professional company to manage your website if you want it done properly.

How it works?
Let's say that in the link to "Visit Google Apps" above, the link is broken because of a typing error when coding the page.

More info from Google Webmaster Central Blog

From the search engine crawler's view, a 404 status code is a link end or the search for deep crawl stops there itself , limiting your link indexing.

According to Google's Adwords guidelines, if you are a adwords publisher, the target / landing page should not be one with a 404 code.

From adsense publisher point of view, definately the potential income is at risk, if not detected those pages and optimized properly as per "real" theme.

How to use 301 / 302 redirect for outdated URLs or website address for maximum SEO advantage?

Well if you dont ever want the site / webpage URL to restore again in the sitemap or the website navigation, use 301 "Moved Permanently" option while if the change or URL forwarding is a temporary one, go for 302 "Moved temporarily" This lets the search engine bots to understand the navigation type and aim.

How to do a 301 / 302 redirect ?

This can be done from your website's control panel, under http headers option. Contact your webmaster for more details how to do it.

According to the observations, Google really cares for the sites having no broken links as it will help in easy navigation of the search bots as well as the visitors.

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