Love Letters from Googlebot

By: Chris Crum - December 3, 2008

In a mildly weird fashion, Google answered some questions regarding HTTP status codes and "if-modified-since" from users who were either made up or had their names changed to protect their anonymity. Names like Little Jimmy, Temp O’Rary, Janet Crinklenose, and Frankie O’Fore (my apologies to any Janet Crinklenoses who may be out there, but I think I’m safe in my assumption that the name is fictitious).

Janet Crinklenose

"Sorry, guys – the fluffy distraction of the dating theme stopped me reading it. I’ll find another, concise article to read about this," says one comment on Google’s post. I guess this isn’t the one he’s looking for since I’m already in my second paragraph about it. But point taken. Let’s try to pick through this nonsense.

One letter talks about cleaning up a site, deleting some old pages, and whether or not 404 pages are ok. "404s are the standard way of telling me that a page no longer exists," says….umm, the GoogleBot. "I won’t be upset—it’s normal that old pages are pruned from websites, or updated to fresher content. Most websites will show a handful of 404s in the Crawl Diagnostics over at Webmaster Tools. It’s really not a big deal. As long as you have good site architecture with links to all your indexable content, I’ll be happy, because it means I can find everything I need."

The post then goes on to address similar items like 301 and 302 redirects for pages linked to by ohers that no longer exist or have been moved, and dynamic pages with changing content.  The GoogleBot says for example:

"Once you’re indexed, it’s the polite way to tell your visitors that your address is still the right one, but that the content can temporarily be found elsewhere. In these situations, a 302 (or the rarer ‘307 Temporary Redirect’) would be better. For example, orkut redirects from to, which isn’t a page that humans would find particularly useful when searching for Orkut***.

It’s on a different domain, for starters. So, a 302 has been used to tell me that all the content and linking properties of the URL shouldn’t be updated to the target – it’s just a temporary page.

You can find more info in the post like how supporting the "If-Modified-Since" header and returning 304 can save bandwidth, and you may find the answers to redirect-related questions you have. That is if you can stomach the presentation of the information.

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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  • bruvver

    I was thinking of writing a fictional account on the crinklenose family history and the way they got their name and how poor janet had problems at school.In the style of the writing of the emu files. Then thought that it was not a good idea just incase there was a family by that name who had a good lawyer….  If you want to see the sort of thing you were missing look at

    • Chris Crum

      Janet Crinklenose probably has enough problems.

  • David

    Its great and clear and clean way of making site live is worth millions as in eye of Google bots and human too