Verifying your site: trouble with 404 pages

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September 07, 2005

You want to verify your site so you can view additional statistics. You click the verify link beside the site on the My Sitemaps page, create the file we ask for, upload it to your server, and click the Check Status button. And then you see this error message:

We've detected that your 404 (file not found) error page returns a status of 200 (OK) in the header.

What should you do?

This error means that we've detected that your server returns a status of OK when the requested file is not found. This is the same status that the server returns when the file exists. When we look for the verification file, we can't tell if your server is returning a status of OK because it finds the file, or because it can't find the file. This means we are unable to verify your site.

Modify your web server configuration to return a status of 404 (file not found) in the header of 404 pages. If your site is hosted, ask your hosting company to do this.

Make sure that if your server returns a custom error page when a requested file is not found, that page returns a 404 status in the header. And make sure that the server doesn't redirect requests that return "file not found" to a valid page of your site, such as your home page. This configuration returns a redirect status code (such as 301 or 302) rather than the correct 404 status code.

You can read more about HTTP status codes. If you don't have a mechanism for checking the headers that your server returns, you can do a search for terms such as check server header tool to find online tools that will check this for you.

Once your web server is configured correctly, try to verify your site again and we'll check the configuration.