The Definitive Guide to Understanding the “410 Gone Error”


First, let’s gain knowledge about what is HTTP and HTTP error codes:

What is HTTP?

As is well known, the two basic components of the internet are clients (Chrome, Firefox…) and servers (websites, databases, emails, applications…).

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is a series of officially defined rules for communication between a client and a server. HTTP, which is also described as a protocol that standardizes the communication functions of telecommunication or information processing systems, is the responsibility of an international organization called the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

What are HTTP Error/Status Codes?

HTTP status codes are messages from the server hosting any web page that can appear while waiting to view it. According to IETF, which develops Internet standards, there are over 60 existing HTTP status codes. These codes, which are generated by servers hosting websites 

When they respond to requests from clients like browsers, are divided  into five groups: 

As can be seen from this grouping, not all HTTP status codes should be considered “errors”. Some are sent for informational purposes or in response to an action, so it cannot be said that all of them require correction or troubleshooting. However, 400 and 500 error codes should be taken seriously because they can prevent search engine bots from scanning your pages and adding them to the index, which can result in your rankings being affected on search engine result pages.

Client Error HTTP Status Codes (400-4xx)

400 status codes indicate that there is a problem with the request and that the page could not be found. They are caused by issues such as incorrect data format entered on the client side or unauthorized access. Content from URLs that return a 400 status code is ignored by Googlebot.

Google’s indexing pipeline doesn’t consider URLs that return these codes for indexing and may remove URLs that are already in the index and return a 400 status code.

Now that we have information about HTTP and its related codes, let’s answer the following questions about the “HTTP 410 Gone” error, which is the main topic of our article:

What is the HTTP 410 Gone Message?

The “HTTP 410 Gone” error message is a message that is seen with similar reasons to the “404 Not Found” error message and is a slightly clearer message than the “404 Not Found” message. If we receive this error message, it clearly shows that the page we want to view has been completely deleted from the server and there is no redirect or incorrect request.

Sometimes, when site administrators want to clearly and definitively convey to search engines such as Google that a page has been removed from the server, they may prefer to return this error message. This prevents any damage to SEO and ensures compliance with SEO rules.

Search engines may be persistent in scanning a page with a “404 Not Found” page not found error message in later periods to index the page and its content. However, in the “HTTP 410 Gone” error message, the search engines are clearly informed that this page has been completely removed from the server.

What are the Reasons for the HTTP 410 Gone Message?

You can see the error reasons for both visitors and server below. There are different reasons for both sides.

Due to Incorrect URL 

The “HTTP 410 Gone” error message is most commonly seen as a result of site visitors entering the wrong site path. If an incorrect URL is entered, the “404 Not Found” message is usually received, but if the page entered is specifically configured for “410 Gone”, this error message may be seen as a result.

Due to System Change

If you are using one of the content management systems for your site, the themes and plugins you add can make unwanted changes to your site. This inevitably leads to “410 Gone” error messages on your site.

Check Log Records

When you receive the “410 HTTP Gone” error message, first check the log records. Log records keep track of all operations on the server and give us information on the reasons. By examining the messages in these log records, you can find the error reasons and the most appropriate solutions.

What is the difference between the “HTTP 404” error code and “HTTP 410 GONE”?

To answer this question, let’s consider Matt Cutts’ speech in the video titled “Does Google treat 404 and 410 status codes differently?”:

If you’re into super technical details regarding Google’s Web crawling and how they interact with different status codes, you’ll probably be interested in the new webmaster help video regarding the differences between how Google handles 404 and 410 status codes. While technically they both mean “page not found,” Matt Cutts talks about the nuances of each and how Googlebot treats each slightly differently.

For those who aren’t too technically savvy, Cutts first explains what the difference is between a 404 and a 410 because most webmasters are far more familiar with the 404 status code.

“So 404 vs. 410 refers to an HTTP status code, so whenever the browser or Googlebot asks for a page, the Web server sends back a status code – 200 might mean everything went totally fine, 404 means page not found, 410 typically means gone, as in the page is not found and we do not expect it to come back,” Cutts said. “So 410 has a little more of a connotation that the page is permanently gone.”

That said, does Googlebot interact any differently when they encounter a 410?

“The short answer is that we do sometimes treat for 404s and 410s a little bit differently, but for the most part you shouldn’t worry about it,” Cutts said. “If a page is gone and you think it’s temporary, go ahead and use a 404. If the page is gone and you know no other page that should substitute for it, you don’t have anywhere else that you should point to, and you know that that page is going to be gone and never come back, then go ahead and serve a 410.”

On the positive side, Googlebot does have some redundancies built in, for when a webmaster or IT department makes a mistake in how they status codes.

“It turns out webmasters shoot themselves in the foot pretty often – pages go missing, people misconfigure sites, sites go down, people block Googlebot by accident, people block regular users by accident – so if you look at the entire Web, the crawl team has to design to be robust against that,” Cutts said. “So with 404s, along with I think 401s and maybe 403s, if we see a page and we get a 404, we are gonna protect that page for 24 hours in the crawling system, so we sort of wait and we say maybe that was a transient 404, maybe it really wasn’t intended to be a page not found.”

“If we see a 410, then the site crawling system says, OK we assume the webmasters know what they’re doing because they went off the beaten path to deliberately say this page is gone,” he said. “So they immediately convert that 410 to an error, rather than protecting it for 24 hours. 

So when you do serve a 410 status code on a page that really isn’t gone permanently, you haven’t killed that page off permanently. Googlebot will return the check and see if the page needs to be returned to the index. 

“Now don’t take this too much the wrong way, we’ll still go back and recheck and make sure those pages were really gone, or maybe the pages have come back alive again,” Cutts said. “And I wouldn’t rely on the assumption that that behavior will always be exactly the same. 

“In general, sometimes webmasters get a little too caught up in the tiny little details and so if the page is gone, it’s fine to serve a 404, if you know it’s gone for real it’s fine to serve a 410,” he said. “But we’ll design our  crawling system to try and be robust so that if your site goes down, or if  you get hacked, or whatever that we try to make sure that we can still find  the good content whenever it’s available.” 

So this is one of those things where it’s a tiny little detail that webmasters probably shouldn’t be overly concerned about. They are treated nearly identically, but if in doubt, the more common 404 route is probably the best way to go.

What is the Solution to the HTTP 410 Gone Message?

HTTP 410 Gone is an HTTP status code that indicates that a requested resource has been permanently removed from the server and is no longer available. When this message is encountered, it is important to understand that the resource cannot be restored and that alternative resources should be sought. Here are some steps that can be followed to resolve the HTTP 410 Gone error message:

It is important to note that the HTTP 410 Gone error is not an error in the traditional sense, but rather a message of information conveyed by the server to the user and search engines. Understanding this can help you approach the resolution of the issue with the correct mindset and increase your chances of success.

In conclusion, resolving the HTTP 410 Gone error requires a combination of troubleshooting steps, including checking the URL, attempting to access the URL from different devices and browsers, checking the server status, searching for alternative resources, and contacting the website owner or administrator. By following these steps, you can resolve the 410  error and regain access to the desired resource. 

Additionally, it is important to understand that the HTTP 410 Gone message is not an error, but rather a message of information conveyed by the server to the user and search engines. This understanding can help you approach the resolution of the issue with the correct mindset and a greater chance of success.

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