Best Practice? - Google Redirects 404s

I just read a post a little while ago about the Google Toolbar (beta) redirecting web visitors away from your custom 404 and to a Google 404 page. Besides the issues mentioned on Seoker.com, I'd have a problem as a business owner. This would mean that my visitors and users would be redirected away from my site and could land on a competitors page if they use the Google search bar. So, as a small business owner, I may need to have a bottomless checkbook to ensure this doesn't happen. As a developer, I'd be upset that Google would do this because I may purposely redirect the user to a correct page. For instance, I have an application right now that sends all 404s to a common HttpHandler. If the handler finds the page in a SQL table, it will redirect the user to the correct URL (ie: mysite.com/special might redirect to mysite.com/products/producta.aspx). I just feel that Google, who complains often that Microsoft forces users to use the Microsoft way, is contradicting itself.

What do you think? Am I wrong in saying that Google has no right to redirect visitors?

2 Comments

  • I do agree that Google should not redirect visitors. However, I do the same thing you do, and redirect users using an HttpHandler. However, the final http status code I return is usually 301 (moved permanently). Because I catch the 404 on the server, the client never sees anything but a 301.

  • I don't use the google toolbar, but based on the link Alan Dean posted, it does actually seem a helpful change as it displays appropriate information from _your_ site (not other sites) and like he also said, we've been dealing with the IE handling of 404 pages by padding out the body past 512 bytes for yonks.

    That means if you're already handling the IE issue, you've probably already solved it for the google toolbar - although, I can see how at first you'd be worried.

    Plus, with your HttpHandler, do you finally serve up a 404 status code, or a 301/302?

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