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I have a Web site, built on ASP.NET MVC 3, that will be closing down completely. The domain will still be required for a few months, so during that time I'd like to display a single message on at least the main page.

I'm thinking that standards would dictate to either have all requests directed to a single page via 301 Moved Permanently, or serve a 410 Gone for all requests.

This is the first time I've completely closed a Web site, and while I hope I don't have to do it again soon, I'd like to know the preferred way to do this.

(I'm completely open to tag suggestions. Closing a Web site doesn't seem to be popular topic, which I suppose is sort of a good thing.)

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off-topic: maybe you want to leave a link to similar websites (e.g. if it is about commercial service or open-source projects). You even can try making some money out of it. –  lulalala Nov 2 '11 at 8:17
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up vote 12 down vote accepted

After the site is closed sending a 410 Gone HTTP status code would be the proper way to do it as this will tell search engines those pages are gone for good and to remove them from their index.

404 will do this, too, but may take longer as the search engines will keep retrying to reach it several times before removing it from their index.

Also, make sure when you send the 410 status code you redirect users to a page expaining the site is closed so they don't get messy error pages and get confused as to what happened.

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Home page as well, or keep it as 200 until it's a bit closer to the time the site actually closes down? The majority of the traffic for this particular site comes from search, and there may be some benefit to allowing people to still search it out to see what happened. –  James Skemp Oct 31 '11 at 0:11
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