Thursday, August 16, 2007

A better 404 error page and 301 redirects on Google.com


In a recent post that I had published on the CNET Blog Network, I talked about how "Even Google Could Use Some SEO."

After getting an inside view into Webmaster Central's metrics on Google.com, I noticed that the top 404 reporting errors were for:

  • http://www.google.com/%20
  • http://www.google.com/%20%20
  • http://www.google.com/%20%20%20


As I'm sure you know, the %20 represents a space after the URL. Those users who link to Google, sometimes copy and paste one, two, or three spaces after the URL. Unfortunately, this creates a 404 error and a bad "end user" experience.

That bad user experience is made even worse by the fact that the Google.com 404 error page is a complete dead-end for users. If users were to come across a link like this one, they have no place to go.

Implementing 301 redirects would help usability, especially since this appears to be such a common mistake when people link to Google. It would also give the Google.com site more PageRank, which can then be passed down to deeper pages in the site.

Also improving the 404 error page to be less of a dead-end would be helpful too.

I realize that Google doesn't need any help with their SEO, but in this case, what's good for search engines is also good for users.

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