How does Google handle "not found" pages that don't return a 404?

How does Google deal with ‘page not found’ pages that are returning a 200 response code instead of a 404? Is this a form of spam? Can Google determine this mismatch algorithmically? Blind Five Year Old, SF, CA

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7 thoughts on “How does Google handle "not found" pages that don't return a 404?”

  1. @RentingInternational With firebug, chorme developer tool etc. you could also use a telnet prompt and then manually entering a request and then check the response, but thats kind of advanced..

  2. For my "Not found" stuff I send 403 header message along with the site and a message there saying that the information is no longer or didn't exist in the first place… I hope google understands that.

  3. As far as I remember, Google names those pages' results "soft 404 errors" – at least in Webmaster Tools (Help), both great resources. There are official Google Blogposts mentioning this. This help page has been translated in several languages, i.e. the german wording is "Falsche 404-Fehler ".

  4. How about setting a canonical URL of "/404.html" for those pages? So, even if Google is uncertain about those pages being 404s, it won't think your website has the same copypasta content on multiple URLs.

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