What Does a 410 Gone Error Mean?
A 410 Gone error occurs when a user tries to access an asset which no longer exists on the requested server. In order for a request to return a 410 Gone status, the resource must also have no forwarding address and be considered to be gone permanently. This is the key differentiator from a 404 Not Found in that with a 404 error, the server does not know if the resource may be available again in the future.
How You Might See a 410 Gone Error
There are a few different ways that you might see a 410 Gone Error. The following list outlines a few of these variations that you may see depending upon the web server that is being used. Although they are slightly different, each one means the same thing.
- 410 Gone
- Error 410
- HTTP Status 410
When to Use a 410 Gone Instead of a 404 Not Found?
It’s important to know when to use a 410 Gone error instead of a 404 Not Found. Using the proper status code is beneficial for a couple of reasons:
- It lets users know that the resource no longer exists, therefore they should not try and access it again
- Googlebot treats each status code slightly differently.
If you’re the owner of a resource and decide to intentionally remove said resource from your origin server permanently, then a 410 error should be returned to any subsequent users trying to access it. This also tells any websites linking to the resource to remove it as a link as it is no longer applicable.
Additionally, according to Matt Cutts, Googlebot treats 404’s and 410’s slightly differently. If Googlebot comes across a 404 status, it protects that page in the crawling system as if to say “perhaps this status was returned accidentally” and does not classify it as an error immediately. On the other hand, if Googlebot comes across a 410 status, it assumes that the webmaster has intentionally set the status for this resource to 410 and therefore Googlebot immediately classifies it as an error. Google does however periodically re-crawl pages / resources that have previously returned a 410 status just to check if anything has changed.
Therefore, if the resource exists somewhere else or may return in the future, use a 404. Otherwise, if you are certain that the resource will not make a re-appearance, you can use a 410.
410 Gone Status Example
To get a better understanding of when a 410 Gone status could be used, consider the following example. Let’s say a company is running a promotional, limited-time offer for a particular product. A page is created for that promotion which is valid for 30 days. However, once the 30-day promotion is over the page is taken down. If the company is sure that the same promotion will never be run again, they may use a 410 Gone status for that page. Therefore if any other website has linked to that page during the promotion period, any visitors will see that the page returns a 410 error, therefore the link should be removed.
410 Gone – In Summary
The 410 Gone status isn’t as commonly used as other 4xx status codes, however it does have its uses. If you are going to use a 410 status on a particular resource / page, simply ensure that you want to permanently remove said page. Otherwise, if there is a possibility that the page will be available in the future, it is better to make use of the 404 status.