Tuesday, August 12, 2008We see two kinds of 404 ("File not found") responses on the web: "hard 404s" and "soft 404s." We discourage the use of so-called "soft 404s" because they can be a confusing experience for users and search engines. Instead of returning a 404 response code for a non-existent URL, websites that serve "soft 404s" return a 200 response code . The content of the 200 response is often the homepage of the site, or an error page. How does a soft 404 look to the user? Here's a mockup of a soft 404: This site returns a 200 response code and the site's homepage for URLs that don't exist.
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Last updated 2008-08-12 UTC.