A 404 (Not Found) response status code is typically returned when a page or resource can’t be located on a website. And this is a fairly standard setup when configuring a site and deciding what to tell search engines and users when you’ve removed pages or content for a site.
Google Search Console will report 404s within the page indexing section under the not indexed tab. As stated above, 404 usually appears in the report because a previously indexed page has been removed or there are internal links from the site to the pages, including links from your sitemap, which will need to be updated and resubmitted after you remove the content. Ideally, the sitemap should be automated, but working with some sportsbooks and casinos, this isn’t always the case.
From an SEO perspective, if you have broken internal links, you need to resolve these as they will affect user experience and negatively impact SEO.
Search Engines will keep revisiting pages that have previously been indexed, so even if the page returns a 404 response code, then the search engine bots can keep returning to the page to see if the content has returned.
To put this in the context of iGaming SEO with Sportsbooks, you will often see, depending on your platform providers, 404s appear when markets end and the pages are removed. For example, with an event like Cheltenham, in the run-up to the event, the pages will be live and ready to take bets on active markets, and once the event has finished, they will be removed and, often, result in a 404.
With Casino SEO, 404s will commonly appear as slot content, or game providers are removed, which tends to happen frequently based on commercial and licencing factors affecting different GEOs. For example, a slot may be deemed uncompliant in the UK, so there is a requirement to remove the page.
In general, with SEO, we want to offer a clean crawl experience for search engines. Google will tell you not to worry about 404s as they are a natural part of how content changes on the web 404s can remain in the index for many months. For SEO, having those pages around for a long time in the index needs to be addressed.
What are 410 response codes?
In contrast, a 410 response code (Gone) indicates that the requested page or resource no longer exists rather than the page has not been found. As such, this is a more permanent instruction to search engines.
410 error codes are intentional instead of merely being the result of broken links or errors that led to the removal of pages. More importantly, they reduce the number of times search engines will come back to try and crawl the pages helping you to clean up your index.
So if a page or content is being completely removed and there isn’t a requirement to redirect to a new page of similar content, then a 410 is better as it will inform search engines to de-index the page.
How can this benefit your website?
Prioritising the use of 410s instead of 404s reduces the number of pages being crawled unnecessarily by search engine spiders. They are no longer visiting dead ends and looking to see if a page has returned.
As a result, the dead pages drop out of the indexes much faster, which doesn’t needlessly waste any crawl budget. Not only this, but these 410 pages will be crawled less frequently.
We saw the results of several different investigations regarding this, and the tests that took place analysed the log files and showed that compared to 404s, there is up to a 50% reduction in visits from search engine spiders. If you compare this to redirects, this would almost imply that 404’s are like 302 (Temporary) redirects and 410s like 301 (Permanent).
In conclusion, although 404s still have a place, 410s are a better option when permanently removing web pages from a website. With the additional benefit of negating these desired pages from website crawlers, this only helps to improve your website’s performance and overall optimisation, all whilst reducing the number of detected broken links.
If you’re experiencing problems with marketing your casino, please contact us at the iGaming Agency, and we’d be happy to help.